Review of the Space Activities Act 1998

Australia is undergoing significant structural change in its industrial landscape. The end of automotive production and the general decline in traditional manufacturing in Australia is driving change from a structure characterised by lower value-added activities to an advanced economy that cultivates and commercialises innovative technologies. There is significant potential for space technologies to play a role in facilitating this transition where the regulatory environment is appropriately conducive to private investment in the space sector.

On 24 October 2015, the Minister for Industry, Innovation  and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, announced that the Government will conduct a review of the Space Activities Act 1998 and Space Activities Regulations 2001. The review will assess whether these existing legislative arrangements remain relevant to current and future advancements in space technologies, and provide an appropriate balance between supporting emerging commercial opportunities and ensuring Australia meets its international obligations for the use of space.

Space law expert, Professor Steven Freeland, will be advising the department throughout the review, in particular in relation to understanding how Australia’s legislative arrangements for civil space activities fit within the global context.

View Professor Freeland’s biography

Steven Freeland is Professor of International Law at Western Sydney University, where he teaches both postgraduate and undergraduate students, and supervises PhD students, in the fields of International Criminal Law, Commercial Aspects of Space Law, Public International Law and Human Rights Law.

 He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna, Permanent Visiting Professor of the iCourts Centre of Excellence for International Courts, Denmark, a Member of Faculty of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, and was a Marie Curie Fellow in 2013-2014. He has been an Expert Assessor of Research Proposals to the Australian Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the National Research Foundation of South Africa, and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, and has taught courses at Universities in The Netherlands, Austria, Belarus, China, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovakia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Denmark, United States, Australia, Turkey, France and Singapore.

 He has also been a Visiting Professional within the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC), and a Special Advisor to the Danish Foreign Ministry in matters related to the ICC. Among other appointments, he is a Director of the Paris-based International Institute of Space Law, a member of the Space Law Committee of the London-based International Law Association, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research.

He sits on the Editorial Board of a number of international journals, including the Australian Journal of Human Rights, the Australian International Law Journal, the Canada-based Annals of Air and Space Law, the German-based German Journal of Air and Space Law / Zeitschrift fur Luft- und Weltraumrecht  and the China-based Space Law Review, and on the Advisory Board of the India-based Asian Journal of Air and Space Law and the UK-based Journal of Philosophy of International Law, as well as a series of books entitled Studies in Space Law. He is also Co-Editor of Annotated Leading Cases of the International Criminal Tribunals, a long-established series of casebooks annotating the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor.

He has authored approximately 300 publications on various aspects of International Law and has been invited to present over 700 expert commentaries by national and international media outlets worldwide on a wide range of legal and geopolitical issues. He is also a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, having been invited to present conference papers and keynote speeches in Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.


  • PhD Maastricht University
  • LLM University of New South Wales
  • LLB University of New South Wales
  • BComIndRel University of New South Wales


  • Marie Curie Fellowship (from EU) 2013-04-01

Professional Memberships

  • Visiting Professor of International Law, University of Vienna (2011 - 2016)
  • Director of the International Institute of Space Law, Paris (2011 - 2016)
  • Member of Faculty, London Institute of Space Policy and Law (2010 - 2016)
  • Member of Space Law Committee, International Law Association, London (2009 - 2016)
  • Permanent Visiting Professor, iCourts Centre of Excellence for International Courts, University of Copenhagen (2012 – 2018)

The regulatory framework for Australian civil space activities is complex and must consider diverse and often conflicting issues. The Government believes that a broad range of views must be considered in order to get the balance right between contemporary and possible future technological advancement, and ensuring that Australians are able to operate responsibly as part of global value chains that utilise space.

The department is inviting stakeholders to provide submissions to the review via an online survey from 24 February to 30 April 2016. To help prepare your submission, an issues paper is available for you to preview the issues and questions being consulted on.

Following the consultation process, the Department will consider all feedback in its analysis and will advise the Government and public accordingly.

Have your say.... Review of the Space Activities Act 1998

View the Terms of Reference for the Review of the Space Activities Act 1998

The review of the Space Activities Act 1998 will examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of existing Australian civil space regulation, including whether the Space Activities Act 1998:

  1. Supports innovation and the advancement of space technologies.
  2. Promotes entrepreneurship and private investment in Australia, as well as opportunities for Australian firms to compete globally into the future.
  3. Appropriately protects the Commonwealth against potential liability claims in relation to current and future civil space activities conducted in Australia or by Australians.
  4. Adequately addresses emerging issues such as management of the space environment and technology advancement or convergence.
  5. Appropriately aligns with other related Australian legislation and/or Australia’s international obligations, and removes unnecessary regulatory burden.
  6. Provides the necessary authority to support Commonwealth led civil space activities (government only).

This six point framework will provide a consistent structure for all activities, including consultations and reports, conducted under the review.

Policy Intent - Space Activities Act 1998

In undertaking this review, the government is considering whether the foundation rationale for the Space Activities Act 1998 remains appropriate to Australia’s transition from an industrial structure which was characterised by lower value-added activities to an advanced economy that cultivates and commercialises innovative technologies.

Space technologies have advanced significantly since the Space Activities Act was legislated in 1998.  Additionally, the global setting for space activities is transitioning from a predominantly public sector model to facilitation of private investment opportunities.  While ensuring that Australia’s liability risks are appropriately safeguarded, it is important that our civil space regulation supports development opportunities for Australian firms; particularly within the context of the changing global environment for space-related activities.


By establishing a licensing and safety regime, one important intent of the Space Activities Act 1998 was to put into domestic law Australia’s obligations as a party to the key United Nations space treaties. It provided legal certainty and a predictable environment for the development and operation of commercial space launch facilities in Australia.  The Act also provided a mechanism for regulating space launch activities conduct by Australians through overseas launch facilities.

The stated objects of the Space Activities Act 1998 [as currently drafted] are to:

  • establish a system for the regulation of space activities carried on either from Australia or by Australian nationals outside Australia; and
  • provide for the payment of adequate compensation for damage caused to persons or property as a result of space activities regulated by this Act; and
  • implement certain of Australia's obligations under the UN Space Treaties; and
  • implement certain of Australia's obligations under specified space cooperation agreements.


Phase Date
Government Consultation Late 2015 (complete)
Public Consultation 24 Feb - 30 April 2016
Analysis May - July 2016
Policy Assessment and Legislative Processes From August 2016

The review process will include two phases of consultation:

  1. Government consultation. The initial consultation phase will include input from Commonwealth agencies, policy fora and international stakeholders with expertise in civil space, including international space law. These consultations will conclude in November 2015 and the findings will be used to develop an issues paper that will be publicly released on 24 February 2016.
  2. Public consultation. The second consultation phase will include submissions in response to the department’s issues paper from industry, researchers, state and territory governments and the general public and will be conducted from 24 February to 30 April 2016.


Collapsed - Stakeholder forum

On 24 February 2016, the department hosted a stakeholder forum on the review of the Space Activities Act. The forum was opened with a speech by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, and marked the start of public consultations for the review.

Discussions at the forum focused on emerging opportunities for Australian industry in space; and the appropriate regulatory setting to enable innovation and entrepreneurship in the space sector. It was attended by 74 professionals from industry, academia, research and government.

The forum was facilitated by Dr Peter Woodgate, Chief Executive Officer, Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, and included presentations by Professor Steven Freeland, and space entrepreneurs, Dr Chris Boshuizen and Dr Jason Held; an expert panel discussion; and audience questions. The expert panel members were:

  • Professor Steven Freeland, School of Law, Western Sydney University
  • Dr Ben Greene, Chief Executive Officer , Chief Executive Officer, Electro Optic Systems
  • Dr Jason Held, Director , Saber Astronautics.
  • Ms Sue Weston, Deputy Secretary, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Should you wish to be contacted about the progress of the Space Activities Act 1998 review, please complete the Expression of Interest form below.

First name
Last name
Organisation name (if applicable)
State (Australia only)
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By selecting ‘yes’ you have read and agreed to the privacy statement of supplying your contact information in the registration form.

View privacy statement

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (the Department) is bound by the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) outlined in Schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) which regulates how entities may collect, use, disclose and store personal information. Information is being collected to allow businesses to register to be notified when the Space Activities Act 1998 Review Discussion Paper is open for public submission.

The Department will collect from the register personal information including your name, organisation name (if applicable), country, state (Australia only) and email address. The Department will use this information to communicate with you for the purpose of providing information to you about the progress of the Space Activities Act 1998 review.

Information obtained from the register will only be used and disclosed for the purposes outlined above. The information may be disclosed to our employees, contractors or service providers and to other Commonwealth government departments or agencies in accordance with the purposes outlined. Information will not be disclosed to any other third parties without your consent.

Personal Information obtained will be stored and held in accordance with the Department’s obligations under the Archives Act 1983 (Cth). Personal information obtained will only be used and disclosed for the purposes outlined above and will not be used or disclosed without your consent, except where authorised or required by law. For further information, please refer to the Department's Privacy Policy.

The Department respects your rights to privacy under the Privacy Act and we comply with all the Privacy Act’s requirements in respect of collection and management of your personal information. We understand that from time to time you may not want to provide this information to us. That’s fine; however, it may mean we are unable to consider your views. If you choose not to consent to the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information as outlined above, you will be unable to receive further information regarding the Space Activities Act 1998 review via the department’s direct notification system.

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