Interview with Will Goodings from FiveAA Breakfast

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The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

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25 February 2022

WILL GOODINGS: 22 minutes after 7. The Prime Minister is flying into Adelaide today for a significant announcement for the Australian space sector.  Of course we're the home of the Australian Space Agency.  $65 million is going to be directed towards Australian technologies, getting back to space soon and making Australia a destination for launch.  But also, they're launching themselves a mission to get an Australian astronaut back into space.  It's been nearly 18 years since we've had an Australian in space and the Federal Government wants that to change.  

The Minister for Science and Defence Industry is Melissa Price, and she joins us on FiveAA Breakfast now.  

Minister, good morning to you.  

MELISSA PRICE: Good morning to you, thanks for having me.  

WILL GOODINGS: Yeah, great to have you in town.  We want to talk to you obviously about this announcement in a moment but, first, the situation in Ukraine is on everyone's mind.  I just wanted to get from you a reaction to what's transpired in the last 18 hours, but with your Defence Industries hat on as well, a sense of whether you think the deteriorating situation globally might necessitate a greater spend in Australia on Defence going forward?  

MELISSA PRICE: M'mm, well as I say thanks for the opportunity today.  And yes, it's great to talk about positive news but yes, of course, we can't avoid what is happening in Ukraine.  

Clearly the situation has escalated overnight, and Australia condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine.  But from an Australian perspective, we're already spending $270 billion on our Defence capability.  No government in Australia has ever had that amount of commitment to making sure our men and women in uniform have what they need.  

In fact it's interesting, back in 2020 we had our strategic update and we included a new domain.  There's Navy and Air Force and Army, of course, but we've included space which is what I hopefully will get to talk about today as a new domain.  

It gives you some idea of how, where Australia spends its money on with respect to Defence capability, how that is evolving.  

WILL GOODINGS: So the plan, Minister, to send an Australian astronaut back into space, this is something close to our hearts here in South Australia with our own heritage with Andy Thomas having gone into space, what's the sort of broader benefit of it?  I mean these things are sort of headline grabbing and, you know, one of those great moments for a nation, but how does it actually flow down into the sort of job space?  

MELISSA PRICE: Well I think, firstly, in terms of today the announcement is around a $65 million package, but this is on top of $850 million that we've already invested to develop a space industry in Australia.  

As South Australians will proudly know we have the Australian Space Agency here.  We're very ambitious to triple the size of the sector to $12 million and create 20,000 jobs by 2030.  

But if I could just go to the why.  I think, you know, this is something that we don't focus enough on, this is why it's so exciting and I hope that, you know, if I can motivate or excite just one or two young people listening to you today, you know, space is very important to our everyday lives.  You know, it enables the GPS to work in the car or on the phone.  It helps our farmers to monitor the health of their crops.  I mean it's used by our emergency workers to help respond to natural disasters, improve our communication systems.  

But also, we need to support our scientists, and this is when we talk about astronauts.  You know, we need to support our scientists who want to continue to do research in space, on space, because we just simply don't know what we will uncover that could help us here on earth.  But a significant amount of opportunity for Australian companies and we know there's a very, very well developing ecosystem in space, ecosystem here in South Australia, like Defence Industry as well.  As you said at the outset, I'm the Minister for Defence Industry so really excited about what's happening here in South Australia.  

But in terms of our investment today that we're announcing with Premier Marshall and the Prime Minister here in South Australia, $65 million, and that's to get more Australian companies and their technologies into space sooner and to make sure that our nation is a leading nation for launch.  

So there's two packages.  One I'm calling the "hitching a ride".  That's a $32 million package that's going to enable our participation in the global space sector, allow us to get products on to our launch into space.  

So if you can imagine if you're a developer, and there's plenty of developers here in South Australia, if you wanted to get a small satellite into orbit to see, you know, if it works to be able to test your technology, that could cost anywhere between 200 and 400,000K.  So we're investing $32 million so that we can help Australian companies test their technology.  

The other package, which is also around $30 million, this is what I'm calling the we're going to create a space port. They're effectively airports for launching rockets into space.  So hopefully this is going to drive more competition, but also those young people sitting at home in front of the computer, they've got a great idea when it comes to space, this is going to motivate them and, you know, continue the good work that the Australian Space Agency does in South Australia.  

WILL GOODINGS: That's the Minister for Science Melissa Price in Adelaide today with the Prime Minister to announce further details on that policy.


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