World leaders have apparently been saying nice things to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the new Australian Space Agency (ASA).
And that can’t be a bad thing at all for a growing organisation that just celebrated its first birthday and which will surely need more resources from the government to advance its agenda of greatly expanding Australia’s space sector.
Though Australia isn’t a member of the G7 (group of seven of the world’s most advanced economies), Morrison attended the event this week as an observer, at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.
The G7 comprises the US, UK, France, Canada, Italy, Germany and Japan. Between 1997 and 2004 it was the G8 as Russia was a member.
Though Australia was on the sidelines, the event gave the PM an insider’s view of the international issues affecting our economy and which affect current and emerging agreements.
Mr Morrison held a variety of useful meetings with world leaders.
"People are noticing what Australia is doing and they want us to be part of what's happening at this level," the PM told reporters in Biarritz as the event wound up on Monday afternoon European time.
"I was particularly pleased that Australia's actions on establishing the national space agency ... in Adelaide has actually been noticed and I'm thrilled about that."
The ASA was mentioned in one-on-one meetings with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and outgoing Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Both expressed an interest in working more closely with Australia on space matters.
The Australian and UK PMs met for 40 minutes, with Johnson describing it as a "very lively affair".
"I very much enjoyed our meeting, let's just say that," he told reporters afterwards.
"We're going to have a great relationship. Despite his cricket sledging, which was very modest.”
PM Morrison repeated that Australia was ready to enter a bilateral trade deal with the UK once it departed the European Union, possibly around the end of October, with the agreement in place within a year.
The ASA was launched on 1 July 2018 and has already formed a number of international collaborations with fellow agencies and companies.
Last week, it signed a joint statement of intent with the European Space Agency, opening the way for greater Australian involvement in future European space missions.
Considering the government’s ambition to triple the size of the Australian space sector to $12 billion and increase employment to 30,000 jobs by 2030, the space agency’s budget is modest, with the 2018 budget allocating $41.2 million over four years.
In the 2019 budget, the government allocated an extra $19.5 million for a new Space Infrastructure Fund.
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