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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7792


Ms TEMPLEMAN (Macquarie) (17:50): Earlier this month, an astrophysicist, Professor Geraint Lewis, who is a Sydney university professor, held a forum as part of Sydney university's Sydney Ideas. Hundreds and hundreds of people were at that venue in Sydney, all because they are fascinated by the secrets and opportunities that space provides. Professor Lewis expressed the view that we should never have stopped at the moon, because essentially that's what happened. We got to the moon and there was a really long pause. Yes, there has been a bit of activity looking at Mars, but we have never made those same leaps that we made in walking on the moon. That's why this parliament supports this bill.

The Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Bill 2018 is all about modernising and updating the domestic law covering commercial and scientific space activities, everything from launches from Australian territory, Australian launches from overseas territories, launches of Australian owned payloads—and, of course, those are usually satellites—and the return of vehicles from outer space. Also, for the first time, we have legislation that looks at rockets from aircraft or launches of high-powered rockets. There is a big gap and we've had it for a long time. There is no doubt that this is overdue.

I note that senators have had some opportunity to look at this bill, and Labor senators' comments highlight just how important this is. The classification of our current act as being essentially a failure is probably not far wrong. No company has launched from Australia since the implementation of the Space Activities Act, with the only example of local activity being the 2010 return of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft and of course the occasional overseas satellite launch. That shows that we've missed some opportunities and that, without a doubt, there is a real pressing need for reform. Unfortunately, this bill is not the wholesale reform that a lot in the sector have been calling for. It tinkers around the edges. I would think it's pretty clear that parliament will be asked to revisit this sector before too long to take those extra steps.

I noted from the additional comments from Labor senators who were involved in the economics committee inquiry that looked at this bill that there is an understanding that regulation must change as circumstances change. Obviously, the global industry of 2018 is very different to that of 1998. As the review of Australia's space industry capability notes:

Not since humans first walked on the Moon have we seen the global space industry undergo such rapid reinvention.

I was one of those kids who sat at school and watched the first steps on the moon. All of us kids of the sixties remember that particular day in the classroom on the black-and-white TVs that were made available. But the space industry has changed. It has just transformed. No longer is it restricted to government agencies and budgets. Space has become a fast-growing and fiercely competitive commercial sector as the costs of launching things falls and the high levels of private funding continue to push the price of entry lower than it has ever been. And these are good things because we should be thinking about a serious space industry. Certainly on this side of the House Labor is thinking of a serious space industry.

There are people in my own electorate who already can see the enormous opportunities that we have. There are four schools in the Hawkesbury part of my electorate of Macquarie that have received federal funding worth $80,000 to help them blast off their students to Space Camp later this year in the United States. Each school is getting $20,000. That will help a group of students towards the cost. It's a pretty hefty cost to get to Space Camp, but it's a big thing in the electorate because, once a few students go and have that incredible experience, others want to. The schools that are benefitting from that include Richmond North Public School. This is one of the pioneers of Australian kids from my part of the world going to Space Camp. The other schools are Hawkesbury High School and Windsor High School as well as Bede Polding College. These kids are really going to have the chance to dare to dream. For many of the children and their families, this will be the first time they've gone overseas. Some parents go, but most of it is just the kids going. They need teachers to go with them, and there has been a huge commitment by the schools to fundraise to make it possible for these students to go.

All of this is happening in the electorate of Macquarie thanks to an amazing woman called Jackie Slaviero. Jackie is one of the founders of One Giant Leap. Before she got involved in space, she had a diverse and longstanding background in education, working as a teacher for 25 years and then in the Department of Education, analysing the New South Wales school curriculum. Her passion for STEM came from an opportunity to go and take part in Space Camp. That passion for STEM is embedded into the goals of One Giant Leap Australia, which prepares young Australians for the opportunities of the future, enhancing teaching skills for teachers so that they are able to produce more capable students. She is helped by Bob Carter, who has a background in the defence and aviation sectors.

The Space Camp that they are preparing kids to go to at the moment takes place in October. They will be visiting Northrop Grumman headquarters. They'll be at the California Science Center. They'll visit the US Space & Rocket Center. They are going to have the most incredible experience. And apparently they get to go to Disneyland and Universal Studios too. I suppose that's not to be sneezed at!

Jackie has taken more than 300 kids to Space Camp USA and Space Camp Turkey. Both these countries have seen it. Of course, Australia doesn't have its own Space Camp, and that's the vision that Jackie has—that one day we will have a camp in Australia that gives kids the opportunity to really think about the adventures of space. On the camps they take the students on, she says, you can jump off 50-foot rock walls. You can parachute backwards into a lake. You do the simulations they use to train astronauts. For a whole week you do astronaut training. I've spoken to some students from North Richmond Public who have been on Space Camp and, while not all of them now want to be astronauts, it has opened their minds to the possibilities of science and turned something that they might not have been attracted to—that whole world of science—into something that they can't wait to get hold of.

Jackie's dream of Space Camp and a national STEM centre of excellence is something she's working very hard to achieve, and I'm very happy to support her. It's a big project. It requires a lot of money. But she has a vision, and that's what we need. The Hawkesbury would be the perfect location not so much for the space centre but for Jackie's vision of a Space Camp.

Jackie also works with students around drones, recognising that drones are not toys; they are serious pieces of science. She has the need for there to be land on which that activity can be done that doesn't interfere with airspace. So I really want to congratulate Jackie on the work that she is doing.

Of course, we think about space and we think about it just being stuff up in the sky, but I think we forget that space based applications impact our everyday lives. Supermarkets provide fresh fruit and vegetables by using satellite navigation in their delivery fleets to optimise just-in-time deliveries. ATMs and other credit card application authorisation processes need satellite based timing synchronisation. Mobile phone conversations require that synchronisation. Emergency and disaster relief response relies on specialised satellite imagery and communications, because electrical power, cell phone towers and cables can all be damaged. Of course, in the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury, that's something that we know is so important. Adaptation to climate change relies on space data. It's actually a science, and we can use science to help tackle it. Transport is being revolutionised today by artificial intelligence, and autonomous and driverless vehicles all rely on satellite navigation enhancements. That's why there is so much opportunity for Australia to be in this space.

Labor wants to double the size of the Australian space industry, which is estimated to be worth $3 billion to $4 billion annually in revenues, within five years of the establishment of a space agency. That's a really significant investment or revenue that you get after a short space of time. We see that it would create around about 10,000 new high-skilled, high-wage jobs in advanced manufacturing, research, earth observation and space technologies.

What are the things that we think need to be part of that? It's all very well to have some legislation that takes us a step further into the 21st century but we would like to see: four Australian Research Council space industry research hubs to advance the capabilities in emerging areas of industry-focused space research and technology; two ARC space industry training centres working with the industry and offering 25 industrial PhDs—these are the sorts of tangible steps we can put in place to equip and skill people; an Australian space science and industry agency, which we announced last year, to ensure that Australia doesn't miss out on the opportunities provided by the rapidly-growing global space industry; and a space industry innovation council to serve as an advisory board for the agency, develop an industry-wide agenda and build international confidence. We also need to make sure we have a space industry supplier advocate to open up opportunities for space industry companies, attracting investment and jobs. All of these things will be prioritised under a Shorten Labor government so that advanced manufacturing and space technology is given the research support that it needs.

These are all very doable things. As a kid in the sixties, watching the first man walk on the moon, it would have been beyond my comprehension—of course, The Jetsons took off and were way ahead of their time. Now we can ground it in science and in fact. Throughout this country, we have people who want to see this happen. This is a good step in the right direction to ensure that we have the framework that's needed to make this industry viable. But there's more we'll do, and more that I'm committed to doing.