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Monday, 30 November 1998
Page: 900

Senator SCHACHT (4:52 PM) —The opposition opposes this amendment, very much for the reasons that the minister has outlined. But I will take this opportunity, Minister, to ask you about a broader issue rather than specifically this clause. In my time as minister responsible for space activities—you might want to say they were non-existent, but we tried hard—I went to a conference for people interested in space-related activities. One of the most activist people there was from the insurance industry, who saw an opportunity for the development of space insurance as a general commercial business to cover launches not only in Australia but generally.

I ask you as industry minister to take on board the opportunities to discuss with the industry, because it is a skill that comes with the industry—actuarially judging losses, et cetera; it is obviously going to be a very big, expanding industry—whether we can establish a financial centre for insurance in space-related activities in Australia. That will actually bring jobs. Not only will it bring the capacity to insure, but also I suspect the skill level will grow in our financial institutions in one form or another to actually be willing to invest in Australian companies that may be wanting to get involved in space-related activities.

I cannot remember the name of the person or the organisation, but they said the opportunities were considerable. I ask you to take that on board and maybe when we come to the estimates committee next year, when you are at the desk and we get to the space pro gram, you will be able to show how more interventionist you are in your new cap of encouraging the development of the space insurance industry with a base in Australia.