House debates

Monday, 29 July 2019

Private Members' Business

Australian Space Industry

10:22 am

Photo of Rowan RamseyRowan Ramsey (Grey, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

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.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Nicolle FlintNicolle Flint (Boothby, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

10:27 am

Photo of Peter KhalilPeter Khalil (Wills, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In support of the member for Grey's motion I would like to echo his sentiment and note that it was through human imagination and human triumph that we saw the first human step onto the moon 50 years ago, and because of it the stars look very different today. We write songs about it, we build cinematic universes around it and we write stories of the stars, all because space holds a deep, abiding mystery for humanity. We look up into space, children and adults alike, for inspiration. We look up to the stars, to clear, bright night skies, and we ask, 'What's out there.' 'Are we alone?' All questions that lead us a little closer to the meaning of life and perhaps our purpose in it.

Australia has been an integral part of every deep space mission NASA has ever flown, going back to 1957 with the establishment of the Woomera facility in South Australia. In 1962, the Parkes telescope supported NASA's Mariner 2 mission. Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek played a vital and famous role in humanity's adventures to the moon. Our location gifted Australia a relatively radio quiet environment for receiving signals, putting us on the international stage during Apollo 11's mission to the moon. The words from Neil Armstrong were heard first here; the footage seen first by Australian eyes. Fifty years ago, men landed on the moon; today we have found water on the moon. We have taken images of black holes and we delve deep into the mysteries of universe. I ask, Mr Speaker, what's next?

President Kennedy famously referenced in his 'We choose the moon' speech the great British explorer George Mallory. When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, Mallory said, 'Because it's there.' Space is there and it's not going anywhere. We need to ask ourselves, this generation of Australians, what role do we want to play? Do we, Australia, want to be leaders in the exploration of space and in the space industry? Do we want our scientists to be at the front line of research, making the next groundbreaking discovery about our universe? As JFK said over 50 years ago:

The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time …

Australia can be a leader in the exploration of space. The great 21st century adventure to come. We can engage in a national endeavour of a magnitude that fires the imagination, leaping out again to the moon and on to Mars. This is not just an investment for our science and technology industries; it's an investment in Australia and our future.

JFK in 1961, when putting a man on the moon was just an idea, made that leap of faith, exhorting his citizens to own the mission to put a man on the moon. In channelling former President Kennedy, if I were to say to my fellow citizens that we, Australia, shall send to the moon a rocket named, say, 'Kanga 1', carrying a robotic rover for research and water mining—let's call it 'Wombat 1'—and then return it safely to earth, and do all of this the right way and in the next decade, then we must be bold; Australia must be bold. We can and should be part of the next manned mission to the moon and the first manned mission to Mars, so that our scientific capabilities flourish, expand and enhance our lives with the technological breakthroughs surely to come from such a national endeavour—and the men and women from the land Down Under will be part of humanity's next great leap out to the stars.

10:30 am

Photo of Nicolle FlintNicolle Flint (Boothby, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Space is blasting off in South Australia, and there is no-one more excited than me about what the Morrison government is doing to power ahead in this area. Last year I worked very hard to make the case for space in my home state of South Australia. I worked closely with Premier Steven Marshall and the South Australian Liberal team. I met regularly with the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology to fight to have the national space agency based and headquartered in South Australia, and I also ensured that the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure knew that Lot Fourteen, a brand new arts and innovation hub, was a great place to base space. Thanks to the Premier, ministers, my federal colleagues, the member for Grey—and I thank the member for Grey for moving this motion today—the member for Barker, the former member for Sturt and, of course, the Morrison-Liberal government, space in South Australia is taking off.

There were many reasons that I thought Adelaide was the perfect home for space. One of those is our significant defence presence that will, among many other things, see us build the first two offshore patrol vessels, the nine future frigates worth $35 billion and 12 submarines worth $50 billion, all of which will create more than 8,000 jobs in a very similar technology space to the space industry.

South Australia is the home of innovation with world-class teachers and researchers at the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia. Former NASA astronaut, the world-famous Dr Andy Thomas AO, and space expert Andrea Boyd both studied at Adelaide University. I'm lucky to personally know Andrea, who is a mechatronic engineer who works for the European Space Agency where she is a flight controller. I know Andrea through her brother Leighton Boyd, who is the director of a wonderful local community organisation in my electorate, MarionLIFE. It's people like Andrea to whom we will be able to offer work and who we will hopefully be able to keep in Adelaide, and in Australia, once the National Space Agency is fully up and running.

It made sense to base the space agency in Adelaide, because we already had the training and manufacturing expertise to launch this capability. So, when the Morrison and Marshall Liberal governments announced last year that the headquarters of the National Space Agency would be located at Lot Fourteen, I was both delighted and very excited. The investment in Adelaide includes the Space Infrastructure Fund and the mission control facilities, worth $6 million. This will commence in 2019-20 and will provide a platform for SMEs or researchers to control small satellite missions and to provide access to space-enabled data. On 18 March 2019, the Morrison government also announced that Adelaide would be home to the $6 million Australian Space Discovery Centre as part of the Adelaide City Deal. The Space Discovery Centre is funded separately and is not part of the Space Infrastructure Fund.

Geoscience Australia have invested $14 million in South Australia over the forward estimates for their ground-station infrastructure, and the new SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre is being headquartered in SA as well. This will create leapfrogging technologies in advance communications and smart satellite systems to build Australia's space infrastructure for advanced communications and connectivity, remote sensing and monitoring for its land, sea and oceans. This is a very significant investment in space for our nation. Our goal is to triple the size of the space industry and to create 20,000 new jobs. The Morrison government is backing the Australian Space Agency with $73.2 million to be provided to the agency all up. We have committed millions elsewhere to support the SmartSat CRC and the Space Infrastructure Fund. Ultimately, this is all about jobs and securing a future for young residents of Australia and particularly of South Australia. It's about giving them a raft of new job opportunities and reasons to stay in SA and in Australia.

I've seen firsthand how inspirational space is to school students, literally across the road from my electorate office in Marion, at Hamilton Secondary College. Some years ago they established the Hamilton Space School, and it is the only designated facility and specialist curriculum to lead space education. It really has to be seen to be believed; it is out of this world. I was delighted to visit with the Premier recently, to see how this facility inspires our next generation of spacemen and women and future leaders.

10:35 am

Photo of Patrick GormanPatrick Gorman (Perth, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

'Twelve, 11, 10, nine—ignition sequence starts—six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. All engines running; lift-off, we have a lift-off!' These were the words of NASA's Jack King as they launched the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Space has always fascinated me, from having the constellations glow in the dark on my bedroom wall, to building model rockets, to being a proud member of CSIRO's Double Helix Club and to the first time I saw the Apollo 11 re-entry module at the Smithsonian. The exploration of space and humans landing on the moon is a constant reminder that anything is possible.

Neil Armstrong summarised his world view about what space exploration truly means with this quote:

After all, the earth itself is a spacecraft. It's an odd kind of spacecraft, since it carries the crew on the outside instead of the inside.

He went on with that analogy, noting that the earth itself and space exploration are both acts of very careful balance; balancing the needs of oxygen and fuel, maintaining the spacecraft or the earth so that you can survive. He said:

If you're going to run a spaceship, you've got to be pretty cautious about how you use your resources, how you use your crew and how you treat your spacecraft.

The enlightenment of space travel is to enrich our life here on earth.

While we talk about the exploration of space as a science, it's also an art. The member for Wills highlighted the inspiration that art draws from the exploration of space. I think it's appropriate to note that Apollo was the Greek god who dragged the sun across the sky but was also the Greek god of music, dance and poetry. Funding space exploration is not just about science, it is about art and bringing art and science together.

Western Australia played a proud role in that first moon landing we've spoken about, some 50 years ago. The NASA Carnarvon Tracking Station in the great north of Western Australia was essential. It sent the instruction for what they called the translunar injection; that is, the directive to go out of Earth's orbit, towards the moon and into the moon's orbit. It also tracked the re-entry of the Apollo 11 module.

That's why more space investment should be made in Western Australia. The location of the space agency in Adelaide was a disappointment for many Western Australians. We have so many space assets, and some of the quietest access to the great unknown anywhere on earth. The CSIRO manages the European Space Agency's deep space tracking station in New Norcia, some 130 kilometres from my electorate of Perth. The European Space Agency is keen to partner with the federal government to double the size of that facility, requiring just a $15 million investment—something that the government should consider and, in my view, agree to.

Australia more generally, as everyone else speaking in this debate has noted, should be very proud of our historical role and we should be proud of what we can achieve in the next 50 years. The Australian Civil Space Strategy rightly notes, 'Australia is a world leader in remote asset management in industries including mining, oil, gas, transport, agriculture and fisheries.'

Many of those remote activities and technologies have been developed in my electorate of Perth, including by some of the biggest names in the mining industry: Rio, Fortescue and BHP. But I was disappointed, in reading the civil space strategy, to see that it was a bit Canberra-centric: it mentioned Questacon; it didn't mention any of the great science education facilities across our country. Scitech in my electorate should have deserved a mention if Questacon was worthy of a mention.

Equally, the space strategy notes that we need 'moonshot' projects to inspire that next generation of young people who might be inspired to study in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and also to find those new discoveries. But, again, the space strategy shies away from actually having any of those ideas. It doesn't actually highlight what one of those 'moonshots' that Australia might take the lead on could be. Could it be landing on Mars, or a permanent base on the moon, the building of a new international space station for the next 20 years, or, as the member for Wills has said, the launching of Kanga 1 and the exploration of the moon via Wombat 1—a uniquely Australian space exploration? There is much to do in the exploration of space, and Australia rightly has an important role to play.

10:41 am

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

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.

10:46 am

Photo of Luke GoslingLuke Gosling (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I commend the member for Grey for the motion and congratulate the member for Wills and the member for Perth for their fantastic contributions. I'm sure the member for Corio will also be good. Thanks to the others for their contributions. It is indeed timely, as everyone has pointed out, with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I met with US ambassador Arthur B Culvahouse last week and we discussed Australia's role in those events but also the great potential for Australia and, more specifically, the Northern Territory to be part of our space industry into the future—but more on that later.

There is now serious activity in our nation about Australia's space program. The Australian Space Agency was established in July 2018 and is responsible for regulating and authorising Australian space activities, building international partnerships and collaboration on space and transforming our space industry. The aim of this initiative is to help Australian businesses win a greater share of the multibillion dollar global space market and develop space technologies to underpin the long-term competitiveness of many other industries including coms, agriculture—as we've just heard from the member opposite—mining, oil and gas, and it is to be commended.

In the last parliament I was the deputy chair of the industry, innovation, science and resources committee with the member for New England as the chair. We intended to go further into space. In fact we had a round table on space but unfortunately it wasn't followed up with an inquiry. I think the member for New England has gone nuclear, so I think that's where he's headed, but the Northern Territory government has seized the opportunity with the establishment of the Australian Space Agency, and its Territory space industry 2020 policy aims to position the NT to take advantage of this opportunity by growing the Territory's space industry capabilities, connecting Territory industry and businesses with the Australian space economy, supporting the Territory economy to be become space enabled and benefit from advances in the space sector that will lead growth, jobs and innovation.

We all have seen, through the use of space technology for GPS and satellite TV, the important role it plays, and in the Northern Territory, like lots of other places in our nation, important roles in bushfire protection, weather monitoring and providing essential services to the public. In the Northern Territory we have a Canberra based company, Equatorial Launch Australia, ELA, who are working through the required regulatory processes to establish Australia's first commercial launch facility, in East Arnhem Land. I recently received a briefing from ELA on their progress in establishing launch pads near Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land. For those who've been up to the Garma festival in Arnhem Land, 20 or so kilometres outside of Nhulunbuy—or Gove, as it is sometimes known—there will be launching pads established there because it is a great place for launching rockets, particularly satellites, because it is quite near the equator, 12 degrees south of the equator. There is also much of the necessary infrastructure in place, such as the port there, and good air access from Darwin and Cairns.

Being close to the equator is important because it makes it easier to get into space from near the equator. In fact, if you're heading up to the moon, you can go direct from Arnhem Land to the moon; whereas, if you're launching from further south, as I understand it—I'm not an expert—you have to do a bit of a lap of the earth before you can head out towards the moon. It is exciting that Equatorial Launch Australia are looking to have their first launches within the coming 12 months. In fact, I know there will be a launch in the coming months.

I was also very pleased recently to meet a group called One Giant Leap Australia which is working with young Australians to develop the skills that we'll need for the innovative space industries of the future. I commend them for their space camps. They have been taking Australians over to the United States for space camps for many years. A bit of an exclusive here today: Space Camp Australia will be constructed in the Northern Territory in the future. I commend the motion to the House.

10:51 am

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise in support of this motion this morning as someone who was born not long before man first stepped foot on the moon. I remember growing up as a young lad when the space race was still very much active and I remember my parents telling me about the fear that Australians experienced when the Soviet Union put Yuri Gagarin as the first man into orbit. I remember my mum and dad telling me as a young fellow about how much fear there was even amongst Australians, as cocooned as we were back in those days, about Russians being in space. Then time moved on and NASA put John Glenn into orbit in Friendship 7 on 20 February 1962. The United States then joined what is now known as the space race.

A little later in that year, on 12 September 1962, President John F Kennedy gave a tremendous speech at Rice University in Houston, when he announced to the world that, by the end of that decade, NASA—and, in fact, the United States—sought to put man on the moon. There's a terrific quote from that speech he gave at Rice University. He said:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

That one paragraph from President Kennedy's speech really embodies the US's intentions to put man on the moon and, indeed, their whole space campaign. But it does more than that; it embodies the human condition. It's a bit like: 'Why did you climb the mountain?' 'Well, because it was there'. For millennia, human beings have looked at challenges and said, 'Let's do this; let's climb that mountain,' 'Let's go to the moon,' 'Let's do things that will make us stretch beyond our comfort zones.' That is what makes us different as human beings. Whilst, admittedly, we're a little bit late to the party, Australians can take tremendous pride in the work that we will now be doing in space over the coming years.

I want to really congratulate the government and, indeed, Minister Andrews for her work and the leadership that she has demonstrated in really grasping the nettle—not because it's easy, but because it is hard. When I look at all of the space exploration that has been undertaken by various nations—whether it be John Glenn in one of the Mercury rockets, the Apollo programs, the space shuttles or, more recently, the unmanned travel that has been going on—what really amazes me today, in 2019, is that when the Americans first put man on the moon the computer that they used onboard the Apollo 11 spaceship had nowhere near the computing power of a mobile phone or even, I'm told, an Apple Watch. What amazes me is the sheer brilliance of the men and the women— (Time expired)

10:56 am

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

Like it was for the member for Fisher, this was a deeply inspiring event for me. On 12 September 1962 President Kennedy said:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard …

The member for Fisher described the events of Apollo as being essential to the human condition and, in that, he is right. It is because it goes precisely to the centre of what we are as beings. When we look at those who have shared our time on the planet and who might be remembered 500 or 1,000 years from now, the person who will be remembered the most is Neil Armstrong. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on 20 July 1969, and Neil Armstrong took those first remarkable steps on 21 July 1969. He stepped into a new world and, as the first human to do it, he will be remembered more than any other person who we have shared our time with on earth right now.

There is a deep Australian connection to this incredible feat. As Neil Armstrong took those first steps, they were beamed to 650 million viewers around the world as a result of the Honeysuckle Creek radio telescope and the Parkes telescope, as has been immortalised in the movie The Dish. The Apollo program was cancelled after Apollo 17 as a result of budget cuts. That was a pity because, had that not been the case, there may well have been an Australian who stepped on the moon. Dr Philip Chapman was an Australian who was participating in the NASA program and had every possibility of being slated for one of those originally planned future Apollo missions to the moon. But his participation in NASA was the forerunner for Dr Paul Scully-Power and Andy Thomas, two Australians who did go to space through the NASA program. To this day, the deep space network at Tidbinbilla, just south of where we are now, is a facility co-hosted by CSIRO and NASA, and NASA retains a pretty significant presence in this city of Canberra today.

This was an event which, for me, being born in 1967, loomed over my childhood and my early teens and absolutely shaped my choices of what I studied. In 1982 I was in year 10. That's the year in which people make their decision as to whether or not to pursue science. It was a no-brainer for me given that the Apollo missions defined science as being the single most exciting endeavour that any of us could engage in. And so, without blinking, I pursued science for the rest of my school career and right through university to complete my Bachelor of Science.

That is not the case today. In 2017, the Office of the Chief Scientist published this statement:

Participation in most Year 12 mathematics and science subjects is declining, and for science is the lowest in 20 years.

I think the celebration of big science as we engaged in with Apollo, the kind of celebration which saw this on the front pages of all our newspapers, was so important to inspiring the likes of me to pursue science in the early 1980s, but in fact 1982 is where the graph peaks when it comes to kids choosing to pursue science in school. We need to change this.

Big science is being undertaken in Australia, but we do not give it the prominence we gave to Apollo 11, and we should. The Square Kilometre Array telescope is an example. It is the single largest science project in the world today, jointly based in Karoo, South Africa, and Murchison, Western Australia. We are deeply connected to this. The Square Kilometre Array dishes, when they are completed in 2025, will produce digital information equivalent to 10 times the global internet traffic of today. They will be able to identify planets in distant solar systems which have bio markers and will be able to confirm, in most of our lifetimes, the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, and that will be a profound moment in the human story.

Yet, we know nothing of this. This is not something which makes it on to the front pages of our newspapers, but it needs to. This needs to be the scientific endeavour equivalent to Apollo 50 years ago, inspiring students in decades to come to pursue science, because, as a country, we must change our cultural relationship with science. If we do not, we will be overtaken by countries within our region and around the world and we will not be the prosperous country in the future that we have been until this time.

11:01 am

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to thank the members for Wills, Perth, Solomon and Corio for their contributions to this debate, as well as the members for Grey, Boothby, Parker and Fisher. The truth of the matter is that 50 years ago, on 21 July, human beings for the first time stood on another planet. Famously, Neil Armstrong said, 'This is a small step for'—he said—'a man, but a giant leap for mankind'. Not so long ago—about two years ago—I took a cruise with Buzz Aldrin, who has a rule that you are not allowed to take selfies with him because he is so famous. Buzz, being Buzz, insisted everyone got a photo with him and that no-one leave the boat without him being very well photographed indeed. He said, on that afternoon, that he thought it was part of the human condition for us to travel beyond the moon to Mars, to invest a whole bunch of resources and human capital to ensure that that was not the last stage of the story that we told, in terms of space exploration.

He pointed out that we do not explore space because it's easy; we do it because it's hard. It is not the actual exploration that matters. What actually matters is that it brings us all together. As the member for Corio pointed out, it is important because it sends a signal to all of those people who seek to understand and gain more knowledge, and this can lead to something so audacious. Space exploration brought all of us together. It united all of us in what is now the single biggest event of modern history, and that is why it is so important. As John F Kennedy said—and he has been quoted at length in this chamber today: 'Where men go, free men must also go.' That is why we do this. While we knew a lot about the moon, there was one thing that we didn't know and that was whether we could get there and get back again. That is what made the Apollo space missions so important.

It has always been thus. Humanity has always wanted to know what was on the other side of the mountain, what was on the other side of the river, what was to be found in the plains ahead, what we would find when we crossed the seas and the oceans. We, as a species, demand to know more. We wish to explore and find out more. It is when we are at our best. That is why space exploration, to boldly go where no-one has gone before, is so critical to how we organise ourselves, our communities and our nations.

This quest for knowledge has been critical in changing how we exist on this planet. Prior to modernity, we believed that the world was a zero-sum game. But space travel has shown us that it can be more—that, when we put things together, all of us can gain. Space exploration has ended wars and it has created peace. It has ensured that what I have does not mean that others must have less. That is why space exploration is critical. And that is why it is so that we as a nation are involved in this endeavour. It is why this government has committed millions of dollars to ensuring that we are part of the space exploration race and part of this great endeavour.

When we look at nations around the world, what we also know is that exploration is critical if you want to encourage innovation—whether it is exploring the depth of our seas or the far reaches of our solar system. Those nations that commit resources, people, energy and devotion to this exploration will typically live in communities and nations that are far better ones—nations that want to see all people better off, not just the few, nations that encourage all of us to reach for the stars. It is in the effort that we make to do these things, to know these things and to be part of such exploration that all of us can become a better group, a better nation and a better people.

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.