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Interview with ABC Gold Coast

24 September 2018

Interviewer: 
Nicole Dyer

Subject: 18th Australian Space Research Conference

E&OE

NICOLE DYER:   

A lot of space talk on the Gold Coast from today for the next few days. Space lore, space medicine, just a few of the issues to be discussed at the 18th Australian Space Research Conference. It will be one of the first times that the new head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark, will be speaking. With you now is local federal MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, good morning.

KAREN ANDREWS:          

Good morning. How are you?

NICOLE DYER:   

I'm very well, thank you. Minister, a CSIRO report is being launched today. What will it detail?

KAREN ANDREWS:          

Okay. It will actually look at what the future is for the space industry here in Australia. So, importantly it will actually set out some strategies for the first one to five-years of the space industry since we announced the Australian Space Agency and it will also give a longer term view of the growth of the industry in the next 10 to 20-years. So, it actually sets out a road map of the space industry here in Australia and starts looking at what our key strengths are going to be.

NICOLE DYER:   

What do you think our key strengths are going to be?

KAREN ANDREWS:          

Well, we've done a lot of work over the years with tracking, with space and we've had a long standing connection with NASA. One of the things that's specifically mentioned in the report is the tracking of space debris. So, I think that is an opportunity for us. We are ideally located in the Southern Hemisphere, so it's a great opportunity for us to get some unique sightings from here in Australia.

NICOLE DYER:   

Given that we have the Gilmour Space Industries based at Pimpama, they're hoping to set up a space launch pad in the not-too-distant future for its rockets, what are the chances?

KAREN ANDREWS:          

Look, it would have to go through all of the processes but I would encourage them- they actually already have launched a sounding rocket - so, a research rocket - from out on the Western Downs. So, rocket launches do take place already here in this country. I would encourage Gilmour, in particular, to keep up the great work that they're doing and also use every opportunity that they can to make sure that the young people here on the Gold Coast understand that there is a space industry in Australia. Currently we have 10,000 people here but by the time we get to 2030, we will probably have about 20,000 people engaged in space industry around Australia.

NICOLE DYER:   

How much is the space economy worth to Australia?

KAREN ANDREWS:          

Well, currently it's worth about $3.9 billion. By 2030, our intention as a government is to grow that to $12 billion. So, it's tripling, effectively, the size of the industry over the next 10 to 12-years. So, that's actually good news but it's a relatively small piece of the global space industry. And what I want to make sure is that Australia is well-positioned to get a big slice of that action.

NICOLE DYER:   

Yeah, right. And you mentioned tracking asteroids and you say where we're positioned is perfect. From where, what parts of Australia would be most involved in a project like that?

KAREN ANDREWS:          

Well, it would probably depend on whether we were using the optical astronomy where we needed to be able to see, in which case we would be looking at places that are inland and away from light. And Woomera is clearly one area where we have done a lot of work with the space sector. So, it would be depending on what we're actually using, whether we're using optical astronomy or radio astronomy. I mean, clearly as a Gold Coast MP I want to do everything that I can to attract as much of the space industry to here on the Gold Coast. Whether we'll actually get launch sites close and whether we'll have observation close to the Gold Coast, I'm not so sure of but we can certainly do a lot with the support industries.

NICOLE DYER:   

Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews, thank you so much.

KAREN ANDREWS:          

Been a pleasure.