24Sep2017

Australia To Get National Space Agency, Government Says

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Australia could soon have its own space agency, with the Government today announcing a review into Australia’s space capabilities. Most developed nations have a space agency, including New Zealand, which announced one last year.

“This is really about how do we set the scene for developing a space industry in Australia,” Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos said. “And in that context, what role changed governance arrangements could play, including possibly the role of a space agency. “We’ll look at the pros and cons of this.

“This is really a way to bring the whole issue to a head.” The Government said the global space industry’s revenue was more than $420 billion annually. It said the sector had grown by about 10 per cent each year since the late 1990s.

Australia already has significant involvement in national and international space activities, but a dedicated agency would help shape the development of a cohesive space program and provide a stronger platform for international collaboration.

Space agency to help keep jobs in Australia

With ever-increasing dependence on satellites for communication and navigation, an Australian space agency could oversee the launch of satellites. But, initially, an Australian space agency’s main role would be to help keep jobs and $3 billion of spending in Australia rather than flowing overseas.

The agency would also help Australians take advantage of satellite technology, especially for farmers. “There are a lot of ways we do work in the space sector already, this is about building on those opportunities,” Senator Sinodinos said.

Two satellites the Federal Government plans to launch as part of the National Broadband Network

“We want to have industry here that can command a premium because they’ve got a competitive advantage.” An expert panel, chaired by former CSIRO boss Dr Megan Clark will lead the review. It will report by the end of March next year.

Calls for more action

Opposition spokesman Kim Carr said the Coalition slashed funding for space programs in its 2014 budget. He said Australia “desperately” needed to move towards having its own space agency.

“It is a remarkable proposition the Minister for Industry … is proposing yet another committee,” he said. “I would have thought you’d do a little bit more in the way of substantive action.” Source:  ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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