Australia to get its own space agency

Government reveals plan to establish national space agency

The federal government will establish a national space agency as part of a push to boost Australia’s domestic space industry.

“A national space agency will ensure we have a strategic long-term plan that supports the development and application of space technologies and grows our domestic space industry,” said acting industry, innovation and science minister, Senator Michaelia Cash.

“The agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement.”

Earlier this year the government commissioned a review of Australia’s space industry capability. The review is being led by former CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark.

The government said this morning that a consultation process staged as part of the review had overwhelmingly indicated the need for Australia to establish a national space agency.

The reference group will develop a charter for an Australian space agency, the government said. It is expected to unveil its space industry strategy in March 2018.

The government in 2015 launched a review of the Space Activities Act 1998. Earlier this year as part of that process a legislative proposals paper (PDF) was released, outlining potential changes to Australia’s current legal framework for space activities.

“The global space industry is growing rapidly and it’s crucial that Australia is part of this growth,” Cash said this morning.

Labor this morning announced it supported the creation of an ‘Australian Space Science and Industry Agency’. The proposal is first part of the party’s Australian Space Science and Industry Plan.

The ASSIA would be tasked with doubling the size of Australia’s industry within five years, including the creation of 10,000 new jobs.

Australia currently only has a 0.8 per cent share of the $420 billion global space economy, according to Labor. 

Other elements of the new policy include the launch of a Space Industry Innovation Council and the establishment of a Space Industry Supplier Advocate.

“Australia has the science, technology, infrastructure and skills to punch significantly above its weight in the global space industry,” states the policy document  (PDF), which earmarks $13 million for the plan.

“Australia has highly regarded capabilities in astronomy — both optical and radio — yet no equivalent is to be found in other space technologies,” the document states.

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