Member State Statement – Australia
Sixty-second session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS)
Statement by Dr Brendon Hammer, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations in Vienna
13 June 2019
Thank you Chair.
As delegations are aware the world is witnessing a transformation of the global space economy.
Space technology is getting smaller, access to space is becoming cheaper, innovation cycles are becoming shorter.
Industry and the private sector, in partnership with government, are playing an increasingly important role in driving societal and economic transformation using space‑based technology.
Indeed, space technologies are playing an increasing important role right across our economies.
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the United Nations space treaties play an indispensable role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space, the effective implementation of the international space law framework, and promoting regulatory arrangements that encourage safety, participation and innovation, which will be increasingly important as these activities increase.
The Australian Government established the Australian Space Agency on 1 July 2018.
Its purpose is to transform and grow a globally respected Australain space industry that lifts our broader economy, and inspires and improves the lives of all Australians.
In April 2019, the Advancing Space, the Australian Civil Space Strategy (2019-2028) was released, which sets out a ten-year path to guide the growth of Australia’s space sector.
The Strategy outlines a staged plan to meet the Australian Government’s goal to diversify the economy, and identifies seven National Civil Space Priorities that build on Australia’s areas of strength and opportunity. These are:
- Position, Navigation and Timing infrastructure
- Earth observation services
- Communications technologies and services
- Space Situational Awareness and debris monitoring
- Leapfrog Research and Development
- Robotics and automation on Earth and in space , and
- Access to space.
Australia will frame its civil space activities around four Strategic Space Pillars.
Internationally, we will identify and enable opportunities through international bilateral and multilateral partnerships.
Nationally, we will coordinate our activities, focus on market gaps and emerging areas of interest and stimulate commercial investment in space.
We will promote a responsible culture by delivering on our civil international obligations and norms, as well as providing a regulatory framework that enables entrepreneurship while ensuring safety, and managing risk.
And we will inspire the future Australian workforce by encouraging STEM education and skills development, while seeking to lift diversity and gender equality in the space sector.
The Australian Government recently announced a $19.5 million Space Infrastructure Fund to help deliver on this Strategy and support projects that will accelerate the growth of Australia’s space industry. Examples of projects include a Mission Control Centre to support businesses and researchers to control small satellites, space payload qualification facilities to enable Australian businesses to build space objects in Australia, and facilities to support the use of Robotics and automation in space.
The Australian Government will also implement a $15 million International Space Investment Initiative in 2020-21 to support Australia to engage with international space agencies.
This will complement recent investment to support a Cooperative Research Centre for Smart Satellite Technologies and Analytics.
The Australian Government - in partnership with industry and research, has committed $245 million to deliver smart satellite systems that will deliver real-time connectivity, surveillance and sensing capability, and the power to drive industry innovation and growth of the internet of things.
Collectively these investments highlight the priority that the Australian Government is placing on civil space, and that the space economy will be an important part of Australia’s future.
The Australian Government has been working to amend our domestic legislation – through the Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 to ensure an appropriate balance between the removal of barriers to participation, encouraging innovation, and the safety of space activities.
Our amended legislative framework includes a requirement for a space debris mitigation strategy guided by internationally agreed debris mitigation strategies, and supports our commitment to implementing the Guidelines on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.
We plan to implement our amended legislative framework either on or before 31 August 2019.
Australia is committed to our international obligations consistent with the UN Space treaties and to being a productive Member State of COPUOS.
We are fully committed to the work of the Committee in developing the Space2030 Agenda and implementation plan and note its importance in presenting a united vision for the future.
In undertaking this work, we support recognising and promoting the fundamental nature of space-technologies and applications, and space-derived data to further economic growth, sustainable development, and ongoing prosperity.
We support communicating the benefits of space-technologies and applications, and space-derived data to other United Nations bodies and other multilateral forums, and identifying opportunities for partnering between bodies, states, industry, research and the community.
And we support enabling space activities, consistent with international law, by promoting a governance framework that encourages safety, participation and innovation.
Australia welcomes further consultation on the revised zero-draft and remain committed to this process, and my delegation remains flexible and open as we continue negotiations on this important document.
Cooperation and dialogue are foundation principles of COPUOS.
As space becomes more congested, contested and competitive, it is important for all Member States to consider ways and means for ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space through COPUOS.
Australia is working hard to ensure we meet our international obligations, and continue to engage productively with COPUOS and its other Member States.