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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1201

Senator WEBSTER (VICTORIA) - I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Can the Minister advise the Senate of the research facilities available to the Department of National Development? Can he advise the Senate whether that Department or any other interested department or government authority is carrying out investigation or research into the future use of solar energy, particularly for power? With the continuing problems of using wasting raw materials as a source of power and the obvious situation eventually arising of raw materials becoming costly and in short supply, will the Minister give urgent consideration to the Commonwealth Government undertaking a feasibility study cf the use of solar energy for power?

Senator COTTON - A number of bureaus or divisions are attached to the Department of National Development and there are research facilities in some of them. Equally, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is drawn upon by the Department, as it is by other departments, for help in applied and fundamental research. Some of the research activities of the Department of National Development are in the coal use area, some relate to water utilisation and some are in the mineral area. I know that work has been done on solar energy with a view to seeing what its application might be for distillation in the drier areas of Australia, particularly in the use of bore water which has a reasonable amount of hardness and salinity but which might perhaps be reduced to a better condition. I refer particularly to water from some of the artesian bores. I do not know the stage that this work has reached, but I think the idea has merit. Australia has a certain access to water of low quality, it has great access to sea water and it has a great mass of sunlight. Adding them all together one could imagine that there would be some wisdom in looking at solar energy. So I shall direct the question, which is a very sensible one, to the responsible Minister.

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