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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7789


Ms BRODTMANN (Canberra) (17:35): It is a great pleasure to speak tonight on the Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Bill 2018. Those listening in the chamber and in the galleries today will hear that once again it's a fabulous opportunity to spruik Canberra and its expertise in space and why we should continue to be the home of the Australian Space Agency. We are currently, but it's temporary under this government. We've made a commitment that, should a Shorten Labor government be elected, the Space Agency will be based here. That's yet another reason why we should elect a Shorten Labor government at the next election.

It is a wonderful opportunity to speak very briefly on this bill and also to spruik the many, many reasons why we need significant investment in space here in Canberra, not just basing the space agency here permanently—as I said, Labor has a made a commitment to do that already, should we win government—but also to make significant investment in the ACT, because, really, we are the experts. We are the experts in this nation. We are the stars when it comes to knowledge, research and history in this area, and the money should be invested here. But I will go into more detail on that shortly.

Labor agrees to support the bill but notes that a decision on any amendments in the Senate will be subject to the findings of a Senate legislative inquiry. There were stakeholders involved in the production of this bill who were seeking a broader re-write of this legislation than has been brought forward by the government. They made specific comments and queries on the fact that the bill simply updates much of the terminology and most of the changes are in name only. Operators have previously complained of an act that is vague, difficult to navigate and with prohibitive compliance costs; also that an earlier Department of Innovation, Industry and Science recommendation to replace the existing legislation rather than amending it was rejected. Also of concern to commercial operators who were considering whether they should base their operations in Australia or move offshore was the requirement for all permits to include a strategy for debris mitigation. It's unclear how closely these new standards must comply, for example, with standards such as the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The bill also fails to regulate Australians' activities while in outer space, as required in the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. Also—and I think this is vitally important—the bill doesn't make the role of the new Australian Space Agency in administering this legislation clear at all. So, as I said, Labor is agreeing to support the bill but notes that a decision on any amendments in the Senate will be subject to the findings of a Senate legislative inquiry.

I turn to my beloved Canberra. For all those listening, I'm warning you now this is going to be a shameless sales exercise on why there should be significant investment on the space front in Canberra and why those opposite should, like Labor, make a commitment to base the Australian Space Agency in Canberra.

Almost one in four Australian space sector jobs is already in Canberra—one-quarter of them. We are the home of the next generation of researchers, engineers and scientists that will support the future growth of the industry. With the global space industry now worth A$420 billion per year and growing by 10 per cent each year, the Australian Space Agency is a welcome addition to our very comprehensive network of research institutions, national security institutions, international engagement institutions, innovation institutions, knowledge based institutions and, of course, transmission institutions and outfits.

Every Commonwealth stakeholder except the Bureau of Meteorology is based in Canberra. National policy agencies such as the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science are based in Canberra, and that provides the opportunity for effective, ongoing collaboration with the Australian Space Agency. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and 80 embassies and high commissions are located in Canberra, and close relationships with our international network will be the key to the success of the Australian Space Agency's international engagement.

Space policy is also absolutely crucial to the success of the Space Agency, as are our international engagement, our innovation, our research, the transmission and the collaboration on this issue. The dual-use nature of many space technologies means that even seemingly benign civil and commercial initiatives will require coordination with the national security community, and such connections will require coordination through the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the national security agencies, which are all based here in Canberra.

In addition, Canberra provides a compelling enabling environment for the Australian Space Agency. We have a high concentration of space industry organisations with extensive technological capability. Here we go. Here is the list. We've got those government agencies. We've got the international agencies. We've got the national security agencies. And we've got these capabilities in so many different areas. The Australian National Concurrent Design Facility for Space Missions, at the University of New South Wales Canberra, and the Australian National University national space test facilities provide Australia's only end-to-end facilities for the design, building and testing of spacecraft. Geoscience Australia's Satellite-Based Augmentation System, National Positioning Infrastructure capability and Digital Earth are all managed in Canberra and supported by the National Computational Infrastructure, at the Australian National University, which recently received an additional $70 million in Commonwealth funding for maintaining Australia's tier 1 HPC capability.

The list goes on. The CSIRO Centre for Earth Observation is headquartered here in Canberra, and that will be a catalyst for engagement with Australian businesses, government agencies and research organisations. The Space Environment Research Centre, located at Mount Stromlo, combined with EOS space systems, makes Canberra a leader in space situational awareness and debris monitoring. The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, managed on behalf of NASA by CSIRO, is one of only three NASA deep-space network facilities in the world and currently supports more than 30 deep-space missions. And the Canberra Region Space Industry Capability Directory lists Canberra region based space companies such as QLabs, who do quantum computing work—extraordinary. We've got Liquid Instruments, Locata, Shoal Group, EOS space systems, Geoplex, Geospatial Intelligence, Clearbox, Equatorial Launch Australia, Viasat, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Airbus Defence and Space.

This is the reason why the Australian Space Agency should be based here in Canberra permanently. As I said, it is a commitment that has been made by Labor, should we win the next election. But also we need to ensure that there is continued significant investment in this because Canberra is top of the pile. We are numero uno when it comes to space expertise in this country—numero uno.

What are we talking about? What is it? Almost one in four space sector jobs are already here in Canberra, and we have all these amazing agencies—internationally renowned and having expertise in so many different areas—based here in Canberra, as well as our national security agencies, our international engagement agencies, the CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, the Australian National University and UNSW Canberra. It's a very, very long list there.

And it's not just that we've got these amazing institutions, this amazing research capability and amazing infrastructure. We've got the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. It has responsibility for positioning, navigation and timing in the transport sector and space. There is the Department of the Environment and Energy, which is responsible for environment management through Earth observation. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has responsibility for agricultural production, also through Earth observation technologies. And, as I said, there are the national security agencies: the Australian Signals Directorate, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre. I attended that recently, last week, when it was officially launched in its new location by the Prime Minister, the defence minister and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security. I thank those opposite for including me in that invitation. National security and cybersecurity issues are largely bipartisan, and so I very much appreciated that bipartisan spirit being shown on that day. Again, I congratulate the government and all those involved in the official opening of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Here's hoping that it truly ensures integration between the private and public sectors—that we will see true collaboration and true information-sharing. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions of everyone at both the Australian Cyber Security Centre level as well as at the national level for that collaborative and threat-sharing environment, that just hasn't happened. So here's hoping that the new facility, that very impressive facility out at Brindabella Park, will realise that real collaboration and cooperation. We actually have to have that for our nation's security and for the economic prosperity of Australia, to ensure that our social DNA, our social fabric, our way of life and our democracy, who we actually are, are protected. That's vitally important.

Just in closing, I've highlighted the education, research and strategic-thinking capacities here in Canberra and I've also highlighted the industry capacity. I've highlighted the many space facilities that we have. They are incredibly impressive and have been working in collaboration with the international community for many years. I also want to talk about the human capital and the actual skill base that we have here in Canberra. These figures make me incredibly proud. They mean that I'm on my toes, particularly when I'm door-knocking—which is, in a way, cold-calling. I need to be on my toes in terms of knowledge of policy, because quite often the people who I'm talking to have actually written the policy.

So they do keep me on my toes, but I feel incredibly honoured and privileged to represent such an extraordinarily engaged and curious community and such an extraordinarily well-educated community. Forty-one per cent of Canberra's adult population holds a bachelor's degree or higher qualification, and that means we are the most highly educated population in the country. The Knowledge City Index of 2017 found that Canberra is the underlying knowledge capital and that through that it has also activated a knowledge economy that sets us apart from other cities in Australia. We're also home to world-class small, medium and large space-related enterprises and high-tech companies. That provides a very fertile environment for innovation opportunities.

As I said, this is a shameless plug for my much-loved national capital, my much-loved Canberra and my much-loved ACT, for us to be the centre of the space industry in this country. We have the Australian Space Agency; we need to make that permanent now. We have these amazing facilities that have been engaging with NASA and the international community for decades. We need to enhance those now. We need to make Canberra our nation's space capital. We need to make Canberra the centre of space expertise in this nation. We have all these abilities—the skills ability, the research ability, the institution ability, the national security ability and the collaborative ability—based here in Canberra. We have the skills. I implore those opposite to listen to the sales pitch, to listen to what the people of the ACT have to say and to make Canberra, our nation's capital, the epicentre of the space universe here in Australia. It's just a small ask. We can begin by making the Australian Space Agency permanently based here in Canberra, as Labor will do.