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.

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 has been prepared which provides the key findings of the review, and which sets out proposed reforms to the legislation.

The aim of the legislative proposals paper is to provide stakeholders the opportunity to comment on specific reform proposals.  Following consideration of this feedback, a Bill will be drafted with a view to its introduction later in 2017.

Reforms under consideration include:

  • 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.

The department is inviting stakeholders to provide submissions on the legislative proposal paper via an online survey before 18 April 2017.

Background

The terms of reference for the review examined the appropriateness and effectiveness of existing Australian civil space regulation, including whether the Act:  

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

For further information please visit the Review’s Consultation Hub.

Timeline

October  2015 Space Activities Act 1998 review publicly announced by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science
Oct – Dec 2015 Preliminary Commonwealth consultations - written submissions
24 February 2016 Stakeholder forum at Parliament House with Minister for Industry Innovation and Science
Release of an Issues Paper for public consultation
February – April 2016 Public consultation – submissions lodged through the Review’s Consultation Hub.
May – August 2016 Analysis of public submissions
August – October 2016 Additional Commonwealth consultation
March 2017

Release of legislative proposals paper for public consultation
Release of Analysis Report by Professor Steven Freeland
Release of departmental paper addressing opportunities for Australian players in global supply chains in the context of the review of the Space Activities Act 1998

August 2017 (Estimate) Public consultation on draft Bill
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