Monday, 5 September 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the minister representing the Minister for Industry and Science, Senator Farrell. Is the minister aware of reports today that the Space Industry Association of Australia is asserting that there has been no substantial engagement with the space industry by any ministerial office in Canberra, that the space policy is in a vacuum and that critical national space infrastructure projects totalling $2.5 billion are stalled on departmental desks? It appears to many that space has fallen through the cracks in Canberra. Can the minister reconcile his government's reported neglect of Australia's strategic and economic importance of the space industry with the government's stated commitment to the industry sector?
I thank the senator for his question. We're certainly not letting space fall between the cracks—you ought to know better than that, coming from South Australia, Senator! You know all about what the Malinauskas government are doing in South Australia, and what the Albanese government are doing nationally on this issue. We're revitalising the space industry, which was left to wallow for 10 years under your former government.
An opposition senator interjecting—
You ought to know, Senator, exactly what's going on! For instance Port Lincoln, in South Australia, is going to be the basis for further space exploration, further launches of rockets into space. I was recently in the United States and I met with a company that's looking to build a new space station at Port Lincoln. The idea of this space station—you'll like this—is that it's a centrifuge, and it spins around and around and around and fires a rocket up into space. Instead of costing—
Honourable senators interjecting—
I thank the minister for his very comprehensive answer. Arising from that answer, I ask him to explain the Space Industry Association of Australia's revelation that no space industry representative was invited to the government's Jobs and Skills Summit last week, despite the sector employing more than 10,000 workers and contributing billions to the national economy.
I can't quite work out the senator's line of questioning here. Either this government is doing something about the space industry and is therefore creating all those jobs or it's not. But you can't have it both ways, with due respect, Senator. The reality is that, as a young man, I can remember rockets being fired at Woomera in South Australia. You let that entire industry go.
I hate to do it, Madam President, but I have a point of order on direct relevance. As much as the trips down Senator Farrell's memory lane are most entertaining for the chamber, there was a question from Senator McLachlan which did go in particular to why the government did not invite representatives of the space industry to the Jobs and Skills Summit. I find it hard to understand how Senator Farrell's recollections of what was happening at Woomera when he was a young man have any bearing whatsoever on the invitation list for the Jobs and Skills Summit.
Honourable senators interjecting—
With due respect, Madam President, I thought I'd answered that directly in my first sentence: what the senator was asking didn't make any sense. The fact of the matter is that the Jobs and Skills Summit that we held last week and that Senator Gallagher made a very significant contribution to involved a whole range—
Minister, as you'd be aware, the government is yet to respond to the inquiry of the other place into developing Australia's space industry, which reported in December. Can the minister please advise the chamber when we will receive a response to that report?
Let me tell you, and I'll reiterate what I started my comments on these questions with, that the Malinauskas government in South Australia—a very fine man, Mr Malinauskas—and the Albanese government at the federal level will ensure that the space industry flourishes in this country. We're all about bringing industry back to Australia. You let it go. Do you remember Holden and what you did to Holden in South Australia, and what you did to Mitsubishi? That was a long time ago, but—
A point of order on direct relevance: we seem to be on the rather earthly matters of cars at present from Senator Farrell, rather than of course the actual question that relates to the space industry and the jobs from the space industry.
Thank you, President. We intend to rebuild manufacturing in this country. Those opposite kicked all of these companies out of our country. We are bringing them back, and space is going to be an absolutely vital part of that.