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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4185

Mr O'KEEFE (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for Minerals and Energy whether Australia has considerable natural areas available for the production of solar energy. Have top engineers and physicists voiced strong and considered opinions that solar energy could be the main source of power in Australia within the next decade? Will the Minister inform the House of the Government's policy on the production of solar energy and whether it is being given a high priority?

Mr CONNOR - Regarding solar energy, Mr Nakasone, the Japanese Minister for International Trade and Industry, agreed with me that Japanese and Australian technologists would meet at an early date to discuss joint action in this matter. Undoubtedly Australia is eminently endowed with special attributes of latitude, paucity of rainfall, and maximum hours of sunshine that would qualify it in certain areas for this purpose. However, there is much bluesky thinking, too, and we need to keep our feet well and truly on the ground. Whilst the research can continue, the real bridge spanning the growing shortage of fuel oil is coal, then to nuclear energy, and ultimately to solar energy. The methods that can be used are well understood, but the cost is still astronomical. I am also being approached, in fact, besieged, by numerous academics each of whom wants to decamp with his own little bag of money and get all the honour and glory of the research for himself. I have in mind that the Atomic Energy Commission might be given the responsibility of conducting and co-ordinating the necessary research.

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