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Monday, 20 August 2001
Page: 26150

Senator MINCHIN (Minister for Industry, Science and Resources) (7:44 PM) — You make on the face of it a reasonable point, although of course it is the company not the public that is, as you say, risking the $800 million. If we could build a public space launch facility, that would be all very well and we could make it available on a commercial basis. But they are not building a space launch facility to make it generally available; they are building it so that they can use Russian rockets to develop a satellite launching business from that very good site. I would like to think that, certainly in the case of public good launches—

Senator Schacht —In the national interest?

Senator MINCHIN —yes—that there would be appropriate arrangements in place to ensure that access was available. I cannot give you a firm undertaking on that at short notice. I think you have made a fair point. I think it is something that we should discuss in some detail with the company when we negotiate the contracts relating to the provision of these funds for those facilities. I agree with you. I would like to think that, certainly in the case of public research or public good launches, access would be available, but again I am mindful of the fact that our $30 million is not a large part of the over $800 million that they are going to have to take the risk of raising to install these facilities. But the company has been very good and very reasonable so far in our dealings and I would expect that to continue. I think you make a fair point and I will certainly keep you informed of progress on that.