Address to the Southern Space Symposium

National Press Club Canberra

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Many thanks Paul 

  • And also to chair of the Space Industry Association of Australia Dr Tim Parsons
  • CEO Mr James Brown
  • Chair of the Australian Space Agency Advisory Board Dr Megan Clark
  • Head of the Australian Space Agency Mr Enrico Palermo
  • Space industry leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is my great pleasure to address this year’s Southern Space Symposium and I thank the Space Industry Association of Australia for the opportunity.

How refreshing to be able to speak with you face to face!

It goes without saying that COVID has been a defining feature of our lives for nearly two years, but Australia has turned the corner and things are looking up.

Although the Omicron COVID variant is a reminder that “normality” post COVID may still be a way off.

Today, I’d like to speak to you about the work we have to do to advance the Government’s plan to grow

Australia’s space industry.

I will do a bit of stocktaking, looking at where we are and where we’re going. Of course, we’re going to the

Moon, but with space, the sky is the limit.

Building on a rich legacy

This is my first speech to the space sector since the Prime Minister entrusted me with the added portfolio responsibility of Science and Technology and, by extension, the Australian Space Agency.

I am honoured to be your number one, but not only, advocate in Cabinet.

I know that the strong connection between the civil space industry, the defence industry and science and technology is not lost on any of us.

Over the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with those of you working on defence programs. 

I know how passionate you are with the space sector and I’m not surprised it is growing quickly, powered by inventive world-class businesses and researchers across the nation, many of them based in my home state of Western Australia.

I come to this role from a State with an active space industry and a proud history dating back to a time when Australia was considered a leading spacefaring nation.

WA has over 70 companies delivering space and space-related services, a highly skilled space workforce and hosts a broad range of space facilities and institutions.

And guess who came out of one of those institutions to lead Australia’s space efforts? Our Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo, a product of the University of Western Australia.

And if I may add, my WA electorate has been central to many of the world’s space efforts.

Durack is perhaps better known for the wealth we dig from the ground – gold and iron ore in particular – than the communication signals we used to send into space.

Carnarvon, in WA’s North-West, once hosted the largest tracking station outside North America and provided the Go – No Go confirmation that sent the Apollo 11 mission spacecraft out of Earth orbit and on its way to the Moon.

I was a little girl in kindy, in my gold mining hometown of Kalgoorlie, but memories of the euphoria around the first Moon landing still remain.

More than half a century later, space still excites our imagination.

As Australia enters a new space era, we have an excellent opportunity across the nation – from Darwin to the ACT to Tasmania – to work together to build our national space capability and inspire young Australians to turn that imagination into rewarding space careers.

And I’m pleased we’re making the most of that opportunity.

The Government’s strong leadership, backed by more than $800 million of investment to date, is helping transform and grow Australia’s space sector.

Advancing the space agenda

The Government has a vision to build an Australian space sector that lifts the broader economy and improves the lives of Australians.

But there’s more we can do to maximise the opportunities emerging from what is shaping to be one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing high-tech sectors.

And to capture a significant share of its growing value, now worth some US$450 billion.

I am determined to work with all stakeholders to advance the goal set by the Government for Australia’s space sector: AND that is to triple the size of the sector by 2030, adding $12 billion to the economy and creating up to 20,000 new high-skill jobs.

It is an ambitious, but achievable goal.

Competition in the global space sector is fierce, but with our steadfast efforts to leverage Australia’s competitive advantage, we will succeed.

And we’re making good progress.In the past four years, we’ve built a strong foundation from which the sector has lifted off, with the Australian Space Agency leading the charge.

Since the agency was established, over $2.5 billion in investment has flowed into the sector from government, the private sector and international space agencies.

And we’re not relenting in our efforts. Even a once-in-a-century global pandemic can’t hold us back.

In the face of this crisis, the Government has maintained its focus on supporting the sector to grow by investing in building capability, strengthening partnerships, and inspiring the next generation of Aussie space workers.

Building capability

A key focus for the Government is to support Australian businesses to get their products into space.

At the height of COVID last year, we injected $11 million into 10 projects to boost jobs and skills in the sector and contribute to Australia’s economic recovery.

These projects, funded through the Government’s $15 million International Space Investment initiative, include R&D activities to:

  • improve GPS technology
  • build an AI space crew to help astronauts with complex system tests, and 
  • design cutting edge spacesuits that will make spacewalking easier.

An early prototype of these spacesuits was developed by Australian space services company Human Aerospace.

It was tested on the International Space Station in 2015, attesting to how Australian innovation is held in high regard.

Our investment in these projects has helped build relationships with international space agencies while boosting our domestic space capability and our economy.

Also, in the course of last year, construction of Australia’s first Mission Control Centre at the Australian Space Agency’s headquarters in Adelaide kicked off.

This state-of-the-art centre is now up and running, and a focal point for space businesses and researchers, providing them with facilities to control satellite and space missions.

It was made possible by $6 million in Morrison Government funding to local company Saber Astronautics and $2 million from the South Australian Government.

The centre is one of seven infrastructure projects awarded grants from our $19.5 million National Space Infrastructure Fund to speed up the sector’s growth.

Also awarded a grant worth $2.5 million is a National Space Qualification Network.

This network is led by ANU and will offer end-to-end payload testing services to Australian manufacturers, meaning they would no longer have to send sensitive equipment offshore for testing, saving time and money.

And we have kept alive our aspiration to go to the Moon and Mars. This is a key priority area for me going forward.

In an exciting development last month, and no doubt you all saw that the Government reached an agreement with NASA for a small Australian-made rover to be included in a future mission.

The agreement will enable leading Australian businesses and researchers to come together to develop the rover, backed by $50 million in funding from the Trailblazer program under the Government’s $150 million Moon to Mars initiative.

I have no doubt that the Aussie rover—or red dog, which is just my working title at the moment—is going to inspire the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs and researchers. 

To gain a foothold in the lucrative space market is not easy. To succeed, you need to have something to show for it. Your products must have space experience – or ‘space heritage’ as we call it. That’s why the Demonstrator Program is so important.

Earlier this year, our Demonstrator program supported 20 projects with grants of up to $200,000 to test their feasability.

Today I’m announcing details of round two of the program.

Australian companies will be able to access support of between $750,000 and $10 million to help launch their technology into space.

Companies will need to contribute at least 25 per cent of the mission’s costs.

To apply for a mission grant in round two companies do not have to be a recipient from round one, but will need a feasibility study to support their application. 

That’s why we’re announcing the guidelines now, to give companies the opportunity to do this work before applications open in the first  quarter of next year.

Our aim is to get 10 to 15 companies and researchers into space through this program, so they can build the heritage they need to make potential sales.

Defence Space

Now turning to Space in the Defence portfolio. As you are all likely aware, the 2020 Defence Strategic Update outlined that access to space is critical to the ADF warefighting effectiveness, situational awareness, and the delivery of real-time communications. In the Force Structure Plan, we outlined our $7 billion investment in space capabilities over the next decade, including investment in sovereign controlled satellites. 

This will transform the way the ADF operates in space and the broader joint force. I’m sure many of you will be aware of Joint Project 9102, which is focused on modernising Defence’s satellite communications. 

And my announcement earlier this year that Space be added to the list of Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities. 


Australia has entered a new era of space activity, driven by Aussie creativity in space entrepreneurship and research.

With the full backing of the Morrison Government, the space sector in Australia is soaring to new heights, all the way to the Moon and beyond.

But we also have our sights set on Earthly benefits. We’re making sure our space endeavours provide economic opportunities, jobs and prosperity for Australia.

Australian space historian Kerrie Dougherty – who now happens to work for our Space Agency – recalls to mind Australia’s early space activities in the 1960s that gained us a place in what she calls the ‘Space Club’.

The Government will continue to provide strong leadership to build the capability and partnerships we need to regain our pride of place in that club.

I want to thank the Space Industry Association for being a strong national voice for the sector.

For those who’ve already crossed paths with me in the Defence Industry portfolio, you will know that I don’t take a backwards step when it comes to supporting a growing industry. I have systematically gone about identifying what the barriers are for our Aussie SMEs to enter the Defence Industry supply chain. And at the same time we’re making sure we’ve got real enablers to make this happen. 

In the space industry, and as the Minister responsible for Space, I’m determined to make life easier for you, not more difficult. I want to support your innovative ideas and commercial endeavours. I know you want more certainty and you want to know where to invest, and for the Government to invest as well. You also want government to be more strategic.

It’s not enough for Government to document our desire to grow the industry. You want action. And that’s what you’ll get from me. 

Thank you.