House debates

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Constituency Statements

Space Industry

4:34 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Australia must, within the next couple of years, have the capacity to construct and deliver a satellite into space. From the tip of the rocket to the propulsion mechanism, with sovereign technology we have to develop this skill. This is based on a whole range of issues. We see Elon Musk and what he is able to do, as a private individual. In Australia we currently have a disparate group of people with extremely pertinent technologies, but we need the capacity to organise them into a structure such that we can deliver our own rocket, with our own payload, into space. It is essential for the defence of our nation. It is essential for the agricultural economy of our nation. And it's essential to be able to show the students who are currently going through high school that there exists for them yet another avenue in STEM subjects.

Why do we need to do this? Currently we rely on GPS from the US. There is GLONASS, which operates from Russia. The Chinese have BeiDou. The Japanese have Quasi-Zenith. The Indians have NavIC. This means that those countries are creating their own sovereign capacity for one of the most pertinent things that operate a modern economy, GPS technology, which stands for Global Positioning System, which actually is the name for the United States system. This phone relies on space technology, Madam Deputy Speaker. Your car these days relies on space technology. Remote medicine relies on space technology. Communications obviously rely on space technology. There is so much. Of course, if we lost that capacity in defence, then we would lose the strategic part of the battlefield and we would lose the war.

If there were the capacity to deal with the interface between US space technology and Australia, that would create immense problems for us. So what we have to do is reach back. Australia has a minor task. Other people were there before us. We used to be very prolific and evident in the space sector around the 1960s, and then we fell out. To quote Kennedy, this goal 'will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills' over the next few years. It is incredibly important. He directed the United States people to put their energies towards a task so as to deliver an outcome. To this purpose, we have a number of inquiries, and one will be in Armidale on 20 April. It is especially pertinent for people in the agriculture sector, and here today I would like to invite them to that to make their submissions and be part of this task.