Senate debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Matters of Public Importance

Space Industry

4:46 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

As a servant to the many different people who make up our one Queensland community, I thank Senator Fawcett for his matter of public importance, which One Nation supports. The Albanese government's decision to terminate the National Space Mission for Earth Observation, NSMEO, will cost jobs in North Queensland. Abbot Point is a perfect location for a space facility. It's close to the equator and offers consistent beautiful Queensland weather, providing for a reliable launch. A North Queensland space industry and launch facility would be able to capitalise on the Abbot Point steel park, already gazetted and just waiting for the Iron Boomerang steel mills. An Australian Academy of Science report from 2022 called for:

… investment in a home-grown Earth observation satellite program, which would design, build, launch and operate the satellites and the sensors on-board used to collect a wide range of data types.

The program providing Australia with its own remote sensing capabilities, with all the jobs and expertise this would involve, was designed to reduce sovereign risk. Remote sensing is the mapping of Australia from space, providing, firstly, an emergency capability to track bushfires, floods and the usual extreme weather events; and, secondly, routine commercial mapping that would have grown Australia's productive capacity. Did the Albanese government not know what remote sensing was or the importance of having this capacity under public control rather than relying on a patchwork of private and foreign government suppliers? It's not as if we can save the money. We still need this capability somehow.

The cancellation of the NSMEO follows the axing last month of the Australian spaceports program, which would have seen government funding assist in the establishment of launch facilities on Australian soil. The effect of these decisions, taken together, is to decimate the Australian space industry at a time when the industry was moving into a commercial phase. This decision is damaging regional Australia, damaging our national productive capacity, damaging our national security and reducing opportunities for career choices for our children.


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