CEO statement on Budget 2018-19

09 May 2018

I welcome the Australian Government's commitment in Budget 2018-19 to invest over $260 million in Geoscience Australia's work to develop world leading capabilities and technology that will help shape the future of industry and business in Australia.

Over the next four years, we will invest $224.9 million to make reliable positioning data accurate to 10 centimetres available in every corner of Australia. Areas with mobile coverage will have access to positioning data accurate to 3 centimetres.

Every time you use a mobile app like Google Maps, you are relying on positioning data transmitted by Global Navigation Satellite Systems such as the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS) to get you from point A to B.

GPS typically provides large parts of Australia with positioning accuracies of 5 to 10 metres. Many Australians living in regional areas currently have limited access to highly accurate positioning data.

Improving Australia's positioning capability is not just about improving location services on a smartphone. It's about helping farmers reduce costs and waste, enabling the Royal Flying Doctor Service to land in more locations than ever before, making it easy to dock a cruise ship in a busy port like Sydney Harbour, and improving safety on construction and mining sites. These are just a handful of the benefits we already know about.

We have already begun testing how Australia could potentially benefit from investing in a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS). SBAS augments and corrects positioning signals transmitted to Australia by GPS, improving accuracy, availability and reliability. Funded by $12 million from the Australian Government and $2 million from New Zealand Government in 2017, our two-year SBAS trial consists of 28 projects from across 10 different industry sectors.

Of the $224.9 million, $160.9 million will be used to fund a SBAS for Australia. The remaining $64 million will be used to establish a national ground station network, improve coordination across government and the private sector, and ensure Australian industry has access to world-leading software tools for positioning.

We also know satellite imagery has an untapped potential to grow Australia's economy. Following the $15.3 million announced in Budget 2017-18, Digital Earth Australia (DEA) has now been fully funded with an additional $36.9 million over the next four years. The ongoing funding will ensure DEA provides the high-quality data and tools required for policy and investment decision-making, and enables businesses to develop applications and services for sectors across the entire Australian economy.

DEA is world-class digital infrastructure that gives everyone, from government organisations to business, town planers to farmers, free access to thirty years of satellite imagery of the Australian continent. The capabilities DEA provides will help to increase business efficiency, bolster profits and create jobs.

We are just starting to understand how this unprecedented access to satellite imagery can improve our understanding of environmental change across Australia, including soil and coastal erosion, crop growth, water quality and the growth of our cities and regions. DEA is just one more example of how Geoscience Australia is putting Australian industry and business at the forefront of global innovation.

These new programs augment Geoscience Australia's strong geoscience capability in energy and mineral resources, groundwater, fundamental geographic information, Australia's marine jurisdictions, and natural hazards.

Dr James Johnson
Chief Executive Officer
Geoscience Australia

Further information

More detail on the funding for each program can be found in:

Visit the Geoscience Australia website to learn more about each program: