South Australia’s new Premier, Steven Marshall, is placing pressure on his federal government Coalition colleagues to have SA take a leading role in the establishment and development of a national space agency.
While giving the opening speech at the Fifth South Australian Space Forum, hosted by the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), Premier Marshall announced his plans to put forward the southern state's skills gained from the defence and advanced manufacturing industries while lobbying Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to have SA take the lead in developing a national space agency.
The federal government announced its intent to establish a national space agency and put together a team of experts to conduct a review into Australia's space capabilities last year.
"I'm meeting with the PM ... and one of my highest priority issues will be to raise the report which I think Michaelia Cash now has on her desk regarding the Australian space agency and lobbying as hard as I can for South Australia to play a lead role in that development," the Premier said.
Premier Marshall said leveraging South Australia's long history in space, which dates back decades when Australia launched its first satellite from SA in 1967, combined with the state's skills in defence and advanced manufacturing, will be critical as the industry grows nationally and internationally.
"Growing a space industry and capturing the opportunities in space is a priority for the government," the Premier said.
"South Australians have a proud history in space related work in a strong advanced manufacturing and technology skills base, making us ideally placed to play a lead role in this important industry as it grows worldwide."
A number of high-profile international speakers attended the SASIC event, including former NASA astronaut Pamela Melroy and representatives from the UAE Space Agency, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Airbus and Italy’s e-GEOS.
SASIC chief executive Richard Price said the forum highlighted South Australia’s entrepreneurial space industry and research capabilities, while helping local companies build relationships with the global space community.
"It’s tremendous to see such a high level of interest in the South Australian Space Forum and our growing space industry," he said. "It’s an exciting time for Australia’s space industry, particularly with the Australian government close to releasing the findings of its review into the nation’s space capabilities.
"Our state is a leader in the growth and development of this booming space industry, which will help grow our economy, creating investment opportunities and new industries.
“In the last year alone, over $52 million of investment has been committed to South Australia’s space industry through venture capital, universities, local industry and government."
The review into Australia's space capability is expected to be released in the coming weeks.