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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 108

Mr Abbott asked the Minister representing the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, in writing, on 13 October 2008:.

Is the Australian National Nuclear Research and Development Organisation investing $10 million to establish a cyclotron facility; if so, (a) what is the purpose of this facility, (b) to what extent will this facility compete with similar private sector facilities serving similar roles, and (c) is the Government using taxpayers’ money to replicate the work of private businesses.

Ms Gillard (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is investing $10 million to establish a cyclotron facility.

(a)   To manufacture FDG (fluoro deoxy glucose) for use in PET (positron emission tomography) scanning.

(b)   The production of radiopharmaceuticals to improve the health of Australians is a central element of ANSTO’s mission. At the time when this proposal was accepted by the ANSTO Board, there was a significant impending shortfall in FDG production capacity in Sydney, with no extant proposals to fill it. Current market projections would indicate that there will be sufficient demand to allow both the ANSTO facility and the proposed competitor to operate in the market.

(c)   See answer above. In terms of funding, PETNET Australia - the ANSTO subsidiary set up to construct and operate the cyclotron facility - is operating at arm’s length from ANSTO. ANSTO provided PETNET Australia with a $10 million start-up loan, on which PETNET Australia is paying commercial interest rates.