House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Space Industry

2:49 pm

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

I'm very pleased to be able to ask the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology to outline to the House how the Morrison government is supporting businesses in growing our science and space sectors, as part of our plan to build a stronger Australia and create jobs in our local Aussie businesses, particularly as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?

2:50 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

How good is space! I am sure that many members in this chamber would have watched NASA's Perseverance rover touch down on Mars just last week. I'm sure that the co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Science group, the member for Corio, would have watched the footage of the rover touching down on its forever home on Mars.

While space inspires and excites us, it actually does so much for us each and every day. It has enormous benefits for us in our everyday lives. It helps our emergency workers tackle bushfires. It helps our farmers manage their crops. Every day, when we use the likes of Google Maps, it helps direct us to where we need to be. It drives the changes that we need in automation and robotics. It's helping us with engineering. So much of the space sector has flow-on benefits for our industries.

We have recently appointed a new head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo. He came to us from Virgin Galactic, so he actually has built spaceships. He is going to take the Space Agency on the next step of its development, which is to look at how we can create commercial opportunities for our businesses here. We, as a government, understand how important space is not only for our everyday lives and because it inspires our young people to study science and maths at school but also for what it can do to grow our economy here. We have an enormous opportunity to be part of the global space race and to look at how we can develop space as a key manufacturing sector here in Australia. That's why we named space as one of our key national manufacturing priorities. We have already opened the funding for the space sector, under our Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

I've spoken previously about the fact that right here in Canberra we have a fantastic business, Skykraft, that is in the process of manufacturing over 200 small satellites. But that's not the only space business that we have. We also have Black Sky Aerospace, which recently successfully launched a rocket using Australian-made solid-state rocket fuel—the first ever in Australia—and we have Gilmour Space Technologies, who are already having great successes. Space is great.