Monday, 29 July 2019
Private Members' Business
Australian Space Industry
Moving on, perhaps, from Kanga 1 and Wombat 1, I marvelled, as did, I think, millions of Australians, last week at the retelling of the stories from 50 years ago. I took particular interest in reading the reproduction of newsprint from 50 years ago—in particular, the vibrant pictures that were painted by correspondents, effectively on the other side of the world, for Australians, and, at the same time, the juxtaposed efforts by Russians and the very real sense of a race that was painted through that reporting.
I also took the opportunity to remind myself that this extension—the move into space and space industries—is, in a sense, a goal in itself, but also much more than that. As someone who represents a rural and regional electorate, I reminded myself that space technologies are used every day by farmers today, in monitoring their crops. Emergency workers use space technology to track the progress of bushfires and obviously to assist in keeping rural Australians safe, not to mention the fact—and these are but a few examples—that scientists study the effects and impacts of drought on the back of this technology. That caused me to reflect on our government's investment in the goal of tripling the space industry and creating 20,000 jobs, and, of course, as a South Australian, on the celebration of placing mission control at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide. Space was, 50 years ago, the next frontier. For me, working in this space, as we have committed to, is about those extension opportunities. It's about how space technologies can deliver a stronger, better economic outcome for everyday Australians working in industries which might be as remote as you could expect from what someone would consider a space industry.
I want to acknowledge the member for Grey for bringing forward this motion and, in particular, for reminding the House of the vital role that the Woomera range and facilities have played in terms of space industries, traditionally, and the very important role they'll have going forward.
I must say that, when space exploration and space industries became the topic du jour some years ago in this place, it caused me to consider why it was that they were so important. I stand in this place now to tell you that you don't always get it right. There were private deliberations by me, at the time, suggesting to myself that I'd be much more concerned about the future of life on earth than elsewhere. But it is an acknowledgement which has been reinforced by the very real focus we've had on the events of 50 years ago and the technologies that sprung from it that caused me, even before the anniversary, to realise that this is more than a means in itself—that is, it's more than the 20,000 jobs that will work in this industry in Australia; it's about how we take that innovative work, research and development and how we find extended uses for it, all the way through to agriculture. I remind the House that, if we are to make the most of our opportunities to take agriculture from a gross output of $60 billion today to $100 billion, we not only have to take advantage of these extensive opportunities but we also have to double our effort in investing in the hard infrastructure on Earth to ensure farmers in my electorate can drive that productivity dividend that comes with using space technology, so I remind the House not only of the importance of that research but also of the need to invest in that infrastructure.