National Space Agency Australia: Geraldton and WA Mid West vie for location rights

Gavin BoxGeraldton Guardian
File illustration.
Camera IconFile illustration. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Space – the final frontier as Star Trek put it – and Geraldton wants to get in on the action.

A Federal MP wants the Australian Government’s planned $50 million National Space Agency to be fully or partly based in the Mid West.

A spokesman for member for Durack Melissa Price said funding to establish the agency was earmarked in next Tuesday’s Federal Budget – and cases were being mounted to base it in Perth, Queensland and South Australia.

But Ms Price and WA Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds are pushing for the Mid West.

Ms Price said decision-makers would be hard pressed to find any region in Australia with as high a concentration of satellite ground stations, or with as much expertise in the field, as in the Mid West.

“Within the Mid West we have the Square Kilometre Array project; we have the Universal Space Network ground station; the European Space Agency Deep Space Earth Station; the Swedish Space Corporation Ground Station; and the Australian Defence Space Communication Station,” she said.

“Slightly further afield, Neil Armstrong’s first stops on the moon were relayed through the tracking station in Carnarvon, which is still part of the Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network.

“The Mid West not only has the infrastructure to support our new National Space Agency, but the history to support it as well.”

Ms Price said the Mid West had demonstrated capacity to support the industry and the NBN present in Geraldton could easily support a space agency.

“While Geraldton is a rural hub and perfectly located near the radio quiet zone, it is still only a 45 minute plane ride from Perth, uniquely offering both isolation and accessibility,” she said.

“Recent research has shown that for every 100,000 Australians who choose to live in growing small cities rather than our big five cities, an additional $50 billion can be released into the economy over 30 years in reduced congestion costs and increased consumption.

“Decentralisation continues to be a focus of this Government, and locating the National Space Agency in the Mid West would reinforce that priority.

“Late last year the head of the European Space Agency said he is ready to act "immediately" if Australia wants to join the ESA – so the time is ripe for this announcement.”

It is believed Cabinet members will make the final decision on the agency’s location in coming weeks, possibly as early as the next few days.

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