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Space race shows power of big-picture innovation.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA THURSDAY OCTOBER 4 2007

SENATOR NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA

AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS SCIENCE SPOKESPERSON

SPACE RACE SHOWS POWER OF BIG-PICTURE INNOVATION

The Australian Democrats welcome calls from the National Committee for Space Science for Australia to play a greater role in space research and development and will move post-election to establish a cross-party inquiry into options for improving Australia's space research effort.

"Today is the 50th Anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1, widely considered to be the beginning of the Space Race. It is a good occasion to reflect on what humankind can achieve when we have a clear goal in mind and allocate the resources to meet it," Democrats’ Spokesperson for Science Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

Senator Stott Despoja raised the issue of space policy in parliamentary debate last year and continues to push for space research and regulation to be given more attention by the Government.

"The Space Race was an era of dazzling technological achievement that we tend now to take for granted, and I congratulate all those who played, or are still playing, a part in those efforts.

"It is a shame that our focus on short-term economic return has drastically limited that kind of blue-sky, goal-oriented innovation.

"Space research is an area of innovation that is heavily dependent on the Government to take a leading role. As a Senator for South Australia - the closest thing Australia has to a space industry hub - I urge the Government to see the value in big-picture research that can capture the public's imagination.

"Space is an important frontier for future research and development and Australia needs to have a place at the table of space-faring nations. The National Committee's plans for an Australian space effort are a good step forward to that end.

"After the election I will continue to try and put this issue on the national agenda, beginning with a call for a cross-party inquiry into how Australia can be more involved in international space research and development," Senator Stott Despoja said.

Media contact: Raina Hunter - 0417 085 260