Monday, September 26, 2011

Minister Carr's Address to the ASSC

Minister for Space Senator Kim Carr today opened the 11th Australian Space Science Conference in Australia. In doing so, Minister Carr gave a major address on the Australian Space Industry, and in my opinion, one of the best government speeches on the topic of Space that we have seen in a long time.

You can read the full address here.

The Speech is important for a number of reasons including that Space is actively being discussed at Prime Ministerial level. Here are my top five highlights from the speech:

1. The speech puts a baseline for the first time about the size and scope of the Australian Space Industry, demonstrating that the industry is strong, and important to Australia. Perhaps this also highlights how ineffective we have been so far as an industry about promoting ourselves with a common voice, and something that we need to radically improve over the coming months to support the governments vision.

"Combined, the Australian space industry involves around 630 organisations employing 8,400 people and generating revenues of up to $1.6 billion."

2. The speech highlights just how important the Space Sector is to the Australian government - and identifies that the Australian government is already a significant investor in Space activities, with over 30 government programs dependent on space infrastructure.

"Australian government is already a major purchaser of Space Today in Australia, there are some 30 separate federal government programs that depend on space industry infrastructure. The Australian Government provides significant investment in space activities to the tune of more than $1 billion per annum."

3. The speech identifies the enormous contribution of Earth Observation to the Australian GDP. We'd love to hear similar data for Satellite communications and Position Navigation and Timing too.

"It  (Earth Observation) contributes at least $3.3 billion to our GDP in 2008-09, and on conservative assumptions that contribution will grow to $4 billion by 2015."

4. Minister Carr has announced the set of principles that will guide the space policy and consultation in the coming months. I am guessing that these principles will be discussed a great deal within the industry in the coming period, and we will be hearing a lot more about them, so read them carefully.

"The principles, which will be the backbone and direction for the policy, are:

a) Focus on space applications of national significance;
b) Assure access to space capability;
c) Strengthen and increase international cooperation;
d) Contribute to a stable space environment;
e) Improve domestic coordination;
f) Support innovation, science and skills development;
g) Contribute to national security and economic well-being."

5. Perhaps there are three lines that I think resonate with me the most, and I think should have a lasting effect on all of those in the industry if we want to be serious about developing an Australian Space Industry that is sustainable:

"For us, this is not about putting man on Mars.
This is about the very practical ways in which the space industry underpins our economy and our way of life.  
It is about the very real jobs and businesses in this country which help us harness those benefits."

Well done Minister for Space!

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