The Opposition is calling on Labor to immediately unfreeze $150 million of landmark space industry grants.

The Opposition has revealed Labor has delayed critical industry grants for the $150 million Australian Moon to Mars initiative. The initiative was set to anchor Australia’s burgeoning space industry and generate hundreds if not thousands of high-skill jobs in advanced manufacturing and technology. It is funded through the Department of Industry.

According to the Government’s grants website all of the Moon to Mars grant programs are currently being reviewed to ensure they are “aligned with policy priorities”.

The $150 million Moon to Mars funding was originally outlined in a commitment made in September 2019 when the Coalition Government announced Australia’s partnership with the United States of America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space exploration program. The Artemis Program aims to see astronauts land on the Moon by 2024. This pledge was solidified in 2020 when Australia signed up to the multilateral Artemis Accords and confirmed our commitment to a safe, peaceful and prosperous future in space.

The delaying of these grants poses serious questions about Australia’s commitment to agreements made with key ally, the United States of America who is seeking to ensure space remains safe and peaceful.

The withholding of this funding is inexcusable.

Is Labor seriously considering taking this key commitment off the table?

Labor’s politically motivated review of these grants has held Australia back from the global space race and is putting our strategic relationships at risk at a time when they have never been more important.

Ed Husic’s record as Industry Minister is already marred by his backflip on the Modern Manufacturing Initiative alongside his failure to support our cyber security industry, and now we can add our space industry to the list of those left worse off under this Labor Government.

Anthony Albanese and Ed Husic need to apologise to the Australian people.

Under the Coalition, Australia pulled our weight when it came to building up our national security and sovereign defence industries – why is doing our bit to help Australia’s allies win the space race too expensive for Anthony Albanese and Ed Husic?

Revelations Labor have decided to halt these critical space programs follows the Opposition uncovering the delaying of $60 million worth of critical cyber workforce funding as Australia reels from the Optus hack.

Industry Minister Ed Husic has previously made a virtue of his efforts to freeze and review grants across the Industry portfolio.

Industry sources have confirmed to the Opposition that a number of industry grants have been in limbo since Labor won Government in May.

It is time for Labor to stop these political reviews and get on with the Coalition’s commitments to critical industry projects.