The gaping vacuum in Albo’s manufacturing agenda

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There’s something missing from the Prime Minister’s manufacturing priorities, and it’s a whole lot of nothing, writes Andrew Wallace.

NASA has revealed the space suits that will be used for the Artemis III mission, which will land astronauts on the Lunar south pole.

ANU Astrophysicist and Cosmologist Brad Tucker says NASA is trying to find suits that are easier to move while keeping astronauts safe on the moon.

“You’re already working in an unnatural environment with unnatural movements and so … we often see injuries resulting from the space suits themselves,” Mr Tucker told Sky News Australia.

“They’re trying to find suits that are easier to move in, still in the idea of keeping you safe … on the moon.”

It was a feat made possible thanks to Australia’s world-leading space tracking capabilities.

A decade later the Apollo-Soyuz mission united the Soviets and Americans in a physical – and metaphorical – handshake in space.

I remember as a young boy peering up at the moon and stars from my friend’s telescope, in utter astonishment at mankind’s achievements in space.

From Carnarvon to Charleville, Australia’s enduring space and aviation legacy has inspired our nation across generations and geographies to dream big and to embrace global co-operation.

Some 50 years after the Apollo 11 mission, I was over the moon (so to speak) to see the federal Coalition supporting Australian companies as part of the Artemis lunar mission.

And from the Australian Space Park in Adelaide to the Bowen Orbital Spaceport in Abbott Point, the Coalition in Government continued to put Australia’s space industry on the right trajectory.

The Coalition backed space manufacturing and boosted space research.

We understand that, just like cyber, space is an emerging and significant domain of greyzone and potential kinetic conflict.

A cutting-edge space industry used to be a matter of national pride.

In 2023 and beyond, it’s now a defence and national security imperative.

Space technology affects almost every aspect of everyday life.

If you use Google Maps, shop or bank online, check the Bureau of Meteorology for the weather, make international phone calls, or watch TV, you can thank space technology.

Without access to satellites, our financial system would cease functioning, our aviation sector crippled, our agriculture sector would become less viable, and our military blinded.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese makes his first address of the year to the National Press Club. Picture: Gary Ramage/NCA NewsWire

However the Federal Government does not seem to recognise the importance of space to Australians or our national security.

While our strategic competitors and allies are investing heavily in the space sector, Labor are ripping out incentives.

Next week the Senate will consider Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund Bill, which has seen the stripping of space capability from our national manufacturing agenda.

Labor has ransacked our manufacturing strategy to fund social policy experiments, despite the Senate committee’s view that the space industry be considered for eligibility.

By his omission of space, including in his most recent National Press Club address, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese threatens to jeopardise years of growth in the sector, and its crucial role in our defence and national security.

Labor talks the big talk about defence, but just dropped space as one of its critical manufacturing hubs worthy of incentivisation and investment.

This is not rocket science.

While we’re not the guardians of the galaxy, Australians expect their government to protect their interests at home, abroad, and in outer space.

Protecting our national interest beyond the mesosphere is essential to maintaining our national security and way of life.

The potential scale of conflict – and of achievement – in space is limitless.

Will Australia be ready for takeoff after two more years of a federal Labor government?

Time will tell.

Andrew Wallace is federal Member for Fisher and deputy chair of the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security and the defence subcommittee

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