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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1204

Senator KEEFFE - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Webster on solar power. I ask: What action has been taken by the Government and its various departments to investigate the use of seawater for domestic and commercial purposes, and has any research been conducted into the possibility of harnessing tidal waters for electric power production.

Senator COTTON - The honourable senator's question is equally helpful. An investigation which was undertaken on the north-west coast of Western Australia indicated that there is a tremendous opportunity for tidal power generation in that area, which is not very far from the pearl culture operation at Kirrie Bay. I think it was estimated that the tidal power capacity in that area was such that it would be able to supply one-third of Australia's total power requirement. A feasibility study has been carried out. Although this study was not done in great depth it is obvious that there is a potential.

The difficulty is that the source of power generation is a long, long way from a market for the power. However, if a big mineral resource in the north-west is developed or an oil development is commenced on the north-west shelf this might change. Some work has been done on the desalination of seawater in regard to the plastic bead column process which is of interest. I think all these things are worthy of attention. I take the honourable senator's suggestion and I shall direct it to the Minister for National Development.

The PRESIDENT - May I encourage honourable senators to remember that time is a fleeting animal.

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