Reform of the Space Activities Act 1998

The review of the Space Activities Act 1998 (the Act) (the Review) was announced by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, on 24 October 2015. The review’s aim was to ensure that Australia’s space regulation is appropriate to technology advancements and does not unnecessarily inhibit innovation in Australia’s space capabilities. For further information please visit the Review’s Consultation Hub.

Various inputs to the Review included:

  • Public submissions (available at www.space.gov.au)
  • Commonwealth submissions (not publically available).
  • International stakeholder submissions (not publically available).
  • A commissioned analysis report on the public submissions written by Professor Steven Freeland (a copy of the Analysis Report is available upon request by emailing space@industry.gov.au).
  • A departmental paper addressing opportunities for Australian players in global supply chains in the context of the review of the Space Activities Act 1998 (a copy of the departmental paper is available upon request by emailing space@industry.gov.au).

A legislative proposals paper was prepared which provided the key findings of the review, and set out proposed reforms to the legislation.

The aim of the legislative proposals paper was to provide stakeholders the opportunity to comment on specific reform proposals.  A total of nine submission on the legislative proposals paper were received. The non-confidential submissions can be viewed online. Following consideration of this feedback, a Bill was drafted. For further information please visit the Reform's Consultation Hub.

Reforms under consideration included:

  • That the objects of the legislation be streamlined, to emphasise appropriately balancing risk and Australian benefit, including a focus on Australia’s international obligations and the establishment of a system of regulation for those activities.
  • That a licence type to authorise payloads be introduced.
  • That requirements currently outlined in the Space Activities Regulations 2001 , which are more relevant to launch rather than establishment of a launch facility, be transferred to the proposed new ‘Australian launch permit’ licence.
  • That a high level statement committing applicants to consider the space environment be considered. Detail on how this might be achieved may be provided in guidance material or a subordinate instrument. The ability for the Minister to provide exemption from this requirement is also proposed.
  • Proposals for possible changes in relation to fees and insurance.

Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Bill 2018

The Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Bill 2018:

  • Broadens the regulatory framework to include licensing arrangements for launches from aircraft in flight.
  • Includes a framework for regulation of high power rockets, introducing regulation for these activities beyond existing arrangements under aviation legislation. This is to ensure appropriate insurance and safety arrangements are in place should an accident occur.
  • Reduces barriers to participation in the space industry by streamlining the approvals process for launches and returns.
  • Supports innovation and investment and provides additional flexibility to adjust to the changing operational environment of the space industry while balancing safety and risk of potential damage with the national interest.
  • Adjusts insurance requirements to appropriate risk levels and international norms (with detail in subsequent subordinate legislation) balancing the risk to the Commonwealth while reducing barriers to entry for potential small space industry Australian companies.
  • Access to space has become cheaper and more accessible to individuals with a commensurate risk of non-compliance. Given the seriousness of the consequence of damage to people and property that arises as a result of non-compliance, the Bill has increased penalties for individuals to reflect the consequences and acts as an appropriate deterrent for non-compliance.

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