Senate debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Matters of Public Importance

Space Industry

4:38 pm

Photo of David ShoebridgeDavid Shoebridge (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Investing in science is important, and the Greens think it's important for more than just a wedge between the opposition and the government. It's important as a significant policy outcome. So, while I'm supporting this matter of public importance motion today regarding the National Space Mission for Earth Observation program, I note significant concerns about the attempt to play 'gotcha' politics with science investment and funding. Cutting space programs for budget repair, which is the Albanese government's approach, doesn't make sense in the context of a financial black hole, which is also supported by the Albanese government, that is the $300 billion to $400 billion, and growing, stage 3 tax cuts, or the $368 billion, and growing, budget black hole for some nuclear submarines that are never likely to turn up.

Why don't we engage in budget repair by cutting the nuclear submarine program, or by cutting the $45 billion Hunter frigates program—and not cutting it just by reducing the number of frigates but actually reducing the money that we're sending to the UK arms manufacturer? Why don't we cut the subsidies for planet-killing fossil fuels instead of attacking science and the space industry? You can bet, though, that if defence thought there was an advantage to this program then it would have quietly had the funding doubled rather than cut in the way that's happened under the Albanese government. We know that to be a serious player in space requires long-term investment to build local capacity and with it the skilled jobs, the industries and the infrastructure to succeed. Instead of doing that, cutting the Australian space force program shows a government that is literally willing to fund war and climate disaster while it withdraws critical investment in space and science.

When we do space programs properly, we get information and answers that relate to some of the biggest problems we have on the planet. But then you need to listen to those answers and act on that information. Much of the information we should be responding to that we've received through Australian and other space programs is about the imminent and catastrophic impacts of climate change. The opposition arguing to fund science won't do any good if they won't listen to the answers that that science tells us, which is to keep coal and gas in the ground. We already use much of the data from Earth-observing satellites to comprehensively understand what's going on with our planet and what's going wrong with our planet—the water, land and atmosphere generally as well as the challenges by extreme weather and other disasters. So yes to holding on to these kinds of critical investments. Yes to this science, which is supported by the National Academy of Sciences. But let's not just do the science—let's then listen to it.


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