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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 4857

Mr Snedden asked the Minister for Science, upon notice:

What have been the commercial applications and consequences of research performed by (a) the Environmental Physics Research Laboratories, (b) the Minerals Research Laboratories, and (c) the National Standards Laboratory since their inception.

Mr Morrison - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(a)   The Environmental Physics Research Laboratories were instituted in July 1971 under the Chairmanship of Dr. C. H. B. Priestley FRS, with the object of strengthening the CSIRO research effort concerned with studying the physical processes controlling weather, the experimental modification of weather (as in rainmaking), the interaction of plants and the environment, and the atmospheric effects of pollution. The EPRL complex currently comprises the Division of Atmospheric Physics, the Division of Cloud Physics, and the Division of Environmental Mechanics. Although the activities of these Divisions are basically directed towards acquiring a better understanding of the natural environment, much of their work has indirect commercial consequences. Thus, successful "cloud seeding" experiments have been carried out by the Division of Cloud Physics in the catchment area of the Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania. Similarly, basic research in the Division of Atmospheric Physics is enabling improvements to be made in the accuracy and timescale of weather forecasting by the national meteorological services. A report published by the Division of Atmospheric Physics in 1972 entitled "Environmental Research- Practical Contributions from a Fundamentally Oriented Group" lists a large number of contributions of commercial importance that have been made by the Division since its inception in 1946.

(b)   The Minerals Research Laboratories were formed in January 1971 under the Directorship of Mr. I. E. Newnham MBE, MSc., with the object of improving both the coordination of minerals research activities within CSIRO and the communications between CSIRO and the mineral exploration, extractive, and processing industries. The MRL complex currently comprises the Division of Chemical Engineering, the Division of Mineralogy, the Division of Mineral Chemistry, and the Division of Mineral Physics.

The commercial consequences of work carried out by the MRL complex have implications for all sectors of the mineral industry ranging from exploration through to process metallurgy and minimising the environmental impact of mining and mineral processing. More detailed information on the various projects is contained in the Annual Reports published by MRL

(c)   The National Standards Laboratory was established in 1939 and changed its title on 1st July 1974. On that date. the Division of Applied Physics and the Division of Physics, which comprised NSL, were amalgamated into the National Measurement Laboratory under the Directorship of Mr. F. J. Lehany MSc.

Since its inception, the Laboratory has been responsible for maintaining standards of measurement of physical quantities and providing a calibration service. As a consequence, its work has had far-reaching effects, particularly in those sectors of industry, commerce and scientific research where measurements of high accuracy are required. Although the Laboratory would not claim to have a special relationship with any particular industry and has not set out to develop specific materials, equipment or processes for commercial application, much of its work has had direct or indirect commercial consequences.

A detailed account of the Laboratory's activities is contained in its Annual Reports and in the Laboratory's most recent Biennial Report for 1 97 1 / 1 973.

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