Centre Alliance Welcomes Space Agency Announcement and Urges Federal Labor to Support it

12 December 2018

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick applauded today’s announcement the Australian Space Agency will be based in Adelaide, but has also called on Federal Labor to accept the Australian Government’s decision.

“Centre Alliance welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Australian Space Agency is to be located in Adelaide,” Senator Patrick said. “Given South Australia’s obvious pre-eminence in space related research, development and activity, it would have been extraordinary if the Government’s decision had gone any other way.”  

“However the Australian Space Agency’s future is far from assured, given Senator Kim Carr, the Labor innovation, industry, science and research spokesperson, has been stridently advocating for the space headquarters to be located in Canberra.”

“Senator Carr has repeatedly argued that Canberra should be the focus of Australia’s space related activity, a perspective that lacks logic and merit but reflects the dominance of east coast interests within the Federal Labor Party.”

“As a very experienced Labor factional operator, Senator Carr knows that federal electorate redistributions have resulted in South Australia losing one federal seat while the Australian Capital Territory has gained one, potentially electing three Labor members to the House of Representatives.”

“Senator Carr has already promised $35 million to create an Australian Space Industry Program, to which the Canberra-headquartered Australian Research Council would be central. Federal Labor and the ACT Labor Government have already demonstrated a preparedness to focus significant political energies and taxpayer dollars to guarantee their stranglehold on the three lower house seats in the ACT.”

“Federal Labor has vigorously opposed any relocation of Australian government agencies from the national capital to other parts of Australia. Kim Carr’s approach to the new space agency is another part of the same political strategy. Labor wants to keep Canberra locked in as a political bastion, delivering three seats at every federal election.”

“In the event of the election of a Shorten Labor Government, one of Senator Carr’s first ministerial decisions may well be to pull the plug on the space agency in Adelaide in favour of a Canberra headquarters.”  

“This will make no sense at all. While several federal agencies involved in space activities are headquartered in Canberra, the larger part of Australia’s space research and development capabilities are located in South Australia.”

“The Australian Government’s decision rightly reflects the reality of where the main scientific and technological capabilities are already located.  

“The new agency now needs bipartisan commitment and certainty if it is to develop and deliver the boost to Australian space activities that it should.”

“However partisan politics, not Australia’s national interest, is at the forefront of Senator Carr’s thinking.”

“Meanwhile Federal Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong and all her South Australian colleagues – Kate Ellis, Mark Butler, Nick Champion, Amanda Rishworth, Tony Zappia, Steve Georganas, Alex Gallacher and Don Farrell - have had absolutely nothing to say.”

“What they should be doing is booting Kim Carr into political orbit and committing to keep the Australian Space Agency firmly on the ground in Adelaide,” Senator Patrick said.

“If they don’t they might as well be adrift in space for all the good they are.”

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