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Thursday, 19 September 1985
Page: 763


Senator JESSOP(11.35) —I want to raise briefly a matter that I have raised previously in the Senate, and I shall not take very long to do it. It concerns a project that has been developed by Mr Andrew Helps, in Victoria, dealing with disaster management systems and his project, in particular, called CADMAS. He had sought funding for this project under section 39 of the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act, and this matter was raised only this week on the program Four Corners, highlighting the importance of the project.

As we know, section 39 is a public interest section of the Act, and disaster management, whether it deals with bushfires such as we experienced a year or so ago in South Australia and Victoria or with floods, or anything else, is a very important subject. I have the advantage of having in my possession a minute paper which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, dated 22 February 1985, between the Secretary of the Department of Industry, Commerce and Technology and one of the first assistance secretaries, in which it was stated that the Minister for Science, Mr Barry Jones, had asked the Australian Industries Research and Development Incentives Advisory Council to reconsider financial assistance to Mr Helps. That minute stated:

. . . eventually it was agreed that the project should be funded.

Mr Barry Jones made it very clear that he had, as a result of this, made a firm commitment to Mr Helps that the finance would be forthcoming and that any delays could prove risky, in that:

. . . the issue could become a political one in the Victorian election campaign.

I hope that the Minister at the table, Senator Grimes, will draw the attention of the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, Senator Button, to this matter and ask him to examine it urgently, because this project is five years ahead of the rest of the world in this form of technology. I am anxious that this project, because of lack of government support with respect to continuing research funding, will disappear overseas. I know that an American company is interested in it. It recognises that the technology is leading the world. I ask the Government to consider urgently providing a grant under that section of the Act.