House debates

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Questions without Notice

Science and Technology

3:11 pm

Photo of Kevin AndrewsKevin Andrews (Menzies, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I ask the Minister for Defence Industry and the Minister for Science and Technology if she will update the House on how the Morrison government is supporting our scientists and researchers in developing new technologies that will create more Australian jobs and support our vital businesses, and, in doing so, strengthen the Australian economy?

Photo of Melissa PriceMelissa Price (Durack, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Menzies and acknowledge his service as a former defence minister and also his passion and interest for all industries across his great electorate.

I'm blown away almost every day by the ambition and the cutting-edge technologies our Australian businesses and researchers are developing each and every day. Just this morning, I had the great pleasure of joining the University of New South Wales Canberra launch open day—I did it virtually, of course! It was an amazing event, to hear about those world-leading technologies that Australians are developing right here at home. We should be very proud.

There is Canberra's Penten, who are developing cybersecurity and tactical communications equipment for our ADF and international partners. Despite the impacts of COVID, Penten have done amazingly well during COVID because they have now almost doubled their workforce from 80 people to 140 people. They exported some $6 million worth of equipment to the UK last year. I am very pleased to say that our government has supported Penten with a $5.4 million contract to help advance those technologies. We also heard today from Skykraft, who design and manufacture specialised satellites which are on track to launch into space, with the help of SpaceX, during 2022.

Out at Lucas Heights in Sydney we have ANSTO, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. It is a global leader, supporting nuclear research in many fields but most importantly in nuclear medicines that save Australian lives. It is estimated that, on average, each and every Australian stands to benefit from a nuclear medicine procedure at some point in their lifetime, with close to a quarter of a million procedures involving nuclear medicines such as x-rays, PET scans and radiology performed every year. Australians should be incredibly proud, because this is a sovereign capability we're talking about that is supporting some 1,000 jobs nationwide. Some, if not many, of us in this House will, sadly, know someone who has experienced some form of cancer.

It is for those reasons we recently announced a $30 million investment to design a new, world-leading manufacturing facility in Sydney to produce lifesaving nuclear medicines. This is the very first step we're taking to replace the current facility with a more modern, world-leading hub for manufacturing, research and development of nuclear medicines. This builds upon our government's investment of almost $12 billion in the science, research and innovation system.