Speech to Parliament - Australia's Space Industry
14 February 2022
"When it comes to space exploration and space industry I am fortunate to represent the electorate of Bean. We are home to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, which is one of only three deep space network stations around the world. Its dishes are a remarkable sight to see against the beautiful backdrop of Tidbinbilla and, in true Australian fashion, there are cattle around its base."
Address to the Federation Chamber - Private Members' Business
Monday 14 February 2022
Firstly, I would like to extend my belated congratulations to Mr Enrico Palermo, who became the head of the Australian Space Agency last year. Mr Palermo has a decorated career in physics and mechanical engineering, having spent over 14 years at Virgin Galactic at the time of his departure as both Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Galactic and President of the Spaceship Company.
When it comes to space exploration and space industry I am fortunate to represent the electorate of Bean. We are home to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, which is one of only three deep space network stations around the world. Its dishes are a remarkable sight to see against the beautiful backdrop of Tidbinbilla and, in true Australian fashion, there are cattle around its base. Just as its predecessor at Honeysuckle Creek played a critical role in the first moon landing, with footage of that first giant step coming from Bean, the CDSCC has played critical support roles in the Apollo space missions to the moon, the Skylab space station and the early flights of the space shuttle. It has been involved in hundreds of other missions since its establishment in 1965 and today is providing vital around-the-clock contact with more than 30 spacecraft on deep space missions.
The deep space complex, together with other critical space infrastructure across Australia, is a tribute to our skills and expertise in the space industry and what we can achieve. Bean is also home to the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, including the Mount Stromlo Observatory, and EOS's satellite laser ranging facility, which is also based at Mount Stromlo. This region has decades of experience in satellite technology. We can build on our proud legacy. It makes sense for this region to be one of the hubs of such activity. We continue to have the science, technology, infrastructure and skills to punch significantly above our weight in the global space industry, but it's critical that we make the investment in TAFE and university places that will underpin this industry for decades to come. Only a Labor government will do so.
Not only does the space industry have value and importance for space exploration; space based applications impact our everyday lives and are particularly important for Australia. For example, supermarkets use satellite navigation in their delivery fleets, autonomous and driverless vehicles rely on satellite navigation enhancements, emergency and disaster relief responses rely on specialised satellite imagery, and adaptation to climate change relies on space data. The pace at which space based technologies and innovation are developing is set to revolutionise the way we live. Increasingly it's where money is being made, where jobs are being created and where industry is being undertaken, and it is expected to grow exponentially. Estimates of its global value into the 2040s range between $1 trillion and $3 trillion, and data shows that for every dollar invested there is a direct return of between $2 and $10. It's a tremendous opportunity for Australia going forward.
Labor have been calling to expand Australia's space industry for many years. We sought an Australian space science and industry agency to ensure that we did not miss out on the opportunities a space industry provides. We understand its capacity to create thousands of new high-skill, high-wage jobs in advanced manufacturing, research, earth observation and space technologies, but additionally a range of professions are needed to support that industry, creating new jobs in law, medicine, project management, communications and business.
Currently, Australia ranks 18th among the G20 countries for government investment in space as a percentage of GDP. Globally, it's about one to 1.5 per cent of the global effort. It's clear we need to capture a bigger slice of the space market.
Labor welcomed the establishment of the Australian Space Agency in 2018, and I'd like to acknowledge the importance of the agency and the role it has played in strengthening the industry. As someone who worked closely with the engineers and scientists in the sector, I say that funding announcements, while welcome, need to be backed up with clear plans for such investment, and, critically, this needs to include an investment in skills. Let's hope that these are the first steps in what will become a giant leap for Australia's space industry.