Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (10:22): I move:
That this House:
(1) notes that this week 50 years ago the human imagination was captivated by the first man to walk on the moon;
(2) recognises the commitment by the Government to space by the establishment of the Australian Space Agency, which will have the goal of tripling the space industry and creating 20,000 jobs;
(3) acknowledges the vital role the Woomera range and facilities have played, and will continue to play in Australia’s space industry; and
(4) congratulates the Government for investing $19 million in a Space Infrastructure Fund that will support projects to accelerate growth of Australia’s space industry.
These are exciting times. Australia is pushing to grab a share of the $350 billion a year space market. The announcement by the government of the establishment of the Australian Space Agency, to be headquartered at the Lot 14 redevelopment in the heart of Adelaide, is creating excitement right around the nation. Australia has been in the space industry since its infancy. This was highlighted last week with the focus on the moon landing. And there was also the establishment of the Woomera Range in 1947, surveyed by the legendary Len Beadell. At one stage its footprint was 270,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Victoria. It has been trimmed somewhat but still covers almost half of that area in the north of South Australia in my electorate of Grey.
At one stage, in the sixties, 7,000 people lived in Woomera. During the seventies and eighties the US and Australia operated the nearby Nurrungar Joint Defence Communications Facility and it was a vibrant centre. I have met hundreds of people across the nation who have at some time lived in Woomera. It has a much lesser population today but is nonetheless busy. As the mode of operations has changed, it is more similar to a fly-in fly-out operation. The base is now operated by the RAAF. Through its time, it has hosted a raft of space and high-altitude weapons development programs, including Sea Wolf, Rapier, Bloodhound, Sea Dart and Black Knight. It remains the world’s biggest launch site. It is well utilised. It is undergoing a significant upgrade program to both its instrumentation and infrastructure, and will play an increasing role in our space future.
As I said, the annual world investment in space-related industries is about $350 billion per annum, with $260 billion of that in the commercial satellite industry. We’re aiming to triple our share of that market to $12 billion a year, but that’s only a little over three per cent. That is eminently doable, but it is a big jump and will send a surge of energy through our high-tech industries. Basing the agency in South Australia also makes sense, with the strong investment links to the weapons development programs at defence, science and technology facilities in Salisbury in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. There will also be a technological surge accompanied with the building of Australia’s new submarine fleet. There are a vast range of opportunities where Australia is ideally placed to make a huge difference in this industry: satellite radio, navigation, satellite launching, the construction and development of very small satellites and the links with defence activities I mentioned earlier. Dare I say, the sky is the limit.
While we have been participating in the space industry, a $4 billion a year industry thus far, considering its recent expansion in years past it would be a fair criticism to say that we have not put a high enough priority on growing our share of the market. This is about to change because we have a whole lot of things going for us in this space—once again, an almost unintended pun; I’m sorry, Mr Speaker. We have high levels of education. We are close to a number of countries in our neighbourhood that will be keen to partner with us. We have a business-friendly environment in this country. We have stable governments. We have a Southern Hemisphere footprint, whereas most of the biggest investors in our neighbourhood in this area are in the Northern Hemisphere. We have world-class ground systems, software and applications. We are an ideal investment partner. We will grow our international links and we will increase our share of the market. As I said, these are exciting times. I congratulate the government for seizing the opportunity.