Interview - Sky News

Peter Stefanovic
Aussie-made rover announcement

PETER STEFANOVIC: Well, an Australian made Rover is heading to the moon for the first time in the nation's history. The Rover will be part of a future NASA mission, where it will aim to extract oxygen from the moon soil. Withdrawing oxygen from lunar soil is critical if humans are ever to establish a long-term future presence on the Moon or even Mars. The Rover will be a joint effort from Australian businesses and researchers and is supported by $50 million worth of federal funding. Joining us live now is the Minister, the Science of technology, Melissa Price, Minister, good to see. Thanks for your time this morning. So we're off to the moon? Well, kind of not man, but of Rover. So, when is it going?

MELISSA PRICE: Well, around 2026 is the best guess at the moment. But can I just say good morning? And yes, Australia is going to the moon, let that sink in. Hopefully, all those budding scientists, new scientists are sitting at home on the couch watching you this morning and I'm hoping that we've inspired them.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Sure. And what is the actual mission and what is our role in that mission?

MELISSA PRICE: Okay, let me paint a picture. So, Australia's Rover will catch a ride on the rocket to the moon and then it'll be operated, whereby it will collect the lunar soil, as you said at the start. And then NASA will determine the level of oxygen in the soil for us then to determine, how is it that we could actually sustain human life on the moon? So very exciting. Great opportunity for Australian businesses, scientists, entrepreneurs, to be involved in effectively, our first mission to the moon.

PETER STEFANOVIC: AUKUS has also played a role here, hasn't it? Which involves the greater collaboration between the Nations, US and Australia. So ultimately, what do you hope this will lead to?

MELISSA PRICE: Well, this is a first start for us and Australia is very keen to develop our own sovereign space industry. As you know, I'm also the Minister for Defence Industry and Space is now a new domain when you talk about the domains for the ADF. So there's a significant amount of money being invested in defence space. But this is about the civil space industry, and it's very important that Australia is a part of that. So we need to be able to grow our space industry, more jobs. As I said at the outset, for us to inspire the next generation of scientists to be involved in this critical work.

PETER STEFANOVIC: And get our men and women into space. 

MELISSA PRICE: Absolutely, absolutely, but this is a very good start, very good start. I'm calling it Aussie Rover, I've got a couple of names for it, but let's just start with that.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay. You mentioned you've got a few hats at the moment. I just want to ask you about one of your former hats as environment Minister, and you are, of course, in a strong mining state as well. Just on climate, are you on board net zero by 2050?

MELISSA PRICE: Yeah absolutely, absolutely. But an ambition is not enough Pete, it's not enough. You actually need to know what's the road map. And as you've heard, our Prime Minister, and, of course, Minister Taylor talk, that it's got to be technology driven, and the people in my electorate who are the farmers and the miners that are very interested in what does that road map look like, they are very interested in the detail.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Have you settled on, have the Lib’s settled on a position yet and ready to take it to the Nats?

MELISSA PRICE: There's a lot of conversations going on, Pete, you wouldn't expect me to discuss that this morning.

PETER STEFANOVIC: But do you think it will be finalised by next week? Is that what you're thinking?

MELISSA PRICE: Well, you know, it'll be finalised when it's finalised, as soon as possible.

PETER STEFANOVIC: You're expecting the Prime Minister to go to Glasgow?

MELISSA PRICE: Well, that ultimately, of course, is an issue for the Prime Minister to determine. But I myself, I've been to a COP meeting back in 2018, as the then environment Minister. And what I do know is that if the Prime Minister does determine to go to Glasgow, that he will find that Australia is incredibly well regarded in those circles, people may be surprised to hear that, but indeed, I had a very positive experience back in 2018. But whether the Prime Minister goes or not, that's ultimately a matter for him.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Did you have many conversations back then with Prince Charles at all?

MELISSA PRICE: Interestingly enough, I did meet him, Lady Elliott Island. That was back in 2018. I had the great pleasure of spending time with Prince Charles on Lady Elliott Island. I can't recall this discussing Australia's attitude to climate and our policies, but it was a very, very valuable and very uplifting meeting indeed.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay, well, that was the point of the question, because he seemed a bit miffed that Australia might not be going to COP26. But anyway, we're out of time. Melissa, appreciate your time this morning. We'll talk to you soon.

MELISSA PRICE: Good on you. Thanks Pete.