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Wednesday, 1 November 2000
Page: 21880


Mr ALLAN MORRIS (4:47 PM) —I would like to add my words of support to those of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration. Firstly, I would like to thank the Joint Statutory Committee on Public Works for a very good report and also for inspecting the Lucas Heights and Ryde locations of CSIRO and allowing me to accompany them. It was an extremely useful day, and I certainly came away very impressed with CSIRO's capacity and also by the great difficulties under which they were working. There is no doubt that there is an urgent need for this relocation, and the committee has been extremely positive in facilitating that. The committee also conducted a hearing in Newcastle, and I was delighted to see the support of state and local government colleagues and the local business community for this project.

This project, as the parliamentary secretary has pointed out, is extremely important. It completes a grouping of energy research capacity in the Newcastle region, which includes BHP's old central research laboratories, the University of Newcastle itself and the Pacific Power advanced technology centre. These come together as a major base for energy development. In the process of all this, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, the state member for Newcastle and I have cooperated in bringing together these organisations with the hope of developing an energy network which can maximise the synergy that is available. This for us is an extremely exciting project. I have said once before that, as the smokestacks fade a bit from Newcastle, people can more readily see the science that sat behind them. We have always had a very strong science base. It was not always so obvious.

In conjunction with this project, the CSIRO has also been working with White Industries to locate a coal separation unit in the Hunter, in Newcastle or one of the adjoining areas. This project is part of the ultraclean coal project. From a national point of view, this is an extremely exciting project. There is potential to more than double the value of coal exported through the ports of the whole country. We have often been concerned that coal was being sold at a low value. Ultraclean coal is a major advance and a very exciting prospect for adding value to our exports and, in the process, using our science to great advantage and generating activity and employment.

I would like to thank the people of Newcastle who have contributed to this. I particularly thank Dr John Wright from CSIRO and his colleagues. They are a very impressive group of people. I want to pass on to them the appreciation of those who attended the hearings in Newcastle and were also impressed with the exercise. This has been an extremely exciting project and an extremely important project, not just for my community but for the whole of the country. I look forward to the CSIRO Energy Centre contributing greatly to the nation. In conclusion, it is extremely timely that this motion is passed on the day when many dozens of scientists have been in the parliament explaining to us the importance of science to the nation. I hope that all members will pick up the challenge that has been given to us. Certainly this is one positive way in which we can do so.

Question resolved in the affirmative.