Space agency blame game

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Geoff VivianMidwest Times
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Regional Development minister Alannah MacTiernan.
Camera IconRegional Development minister Alannah MacTiernan. Credit: Geoff Vivian

Politicians from both major parties are blaming each other for the Federal Government decision to base the Australian Space Agency in South Australia rather than WA.

Member for Durack Melissa Price said the McGowan Labor Government did not invest enough money to get the Australian Space Agency based in WA.

WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the previous WA Barnett Government had refused to participate in the exercise, while South Australia had proactively pursued it for years.

She said she had learnt this when she represented the Premier at the first COAG Industry and Skills Council meeting after winning the 2017 State Election.

“We were basically told that WA had not been present over the last five years, so we then put a huge effort into showing what all of our capabilities were,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“It was clear that other States had been well and truly in these discussions about a space station and had been doing work over a number of years.”

Science Minister Dave Kelly, with European Space Agency General Professor Jan Woerner and WA's Chief Scientist, Peter Klinken AC at ESA’s deep space antenna in New Norcia last year.
Camera IconScience Minister Dave Kelly, with European Space Agency General Professor Jan Woerner and WA's Chief Scientist, Peter Klinken AC at ESA’s deep space antenna in New Norcia last year. Credit: Dave Kelly

Ms MacTiernan said WA Science Minister Dave Kelly had lobbied hard ever since to get the project based in this State.

She said Mr Kelly drew attention to the SKA project near Murchison settlement, satellite tracking stations in Perenjori, European Space Agency facility at New Norcia, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth and WA’s radio quiet zones.

Ms Price said it was a “great shame” the WA Labor Government could not “make the effort” to put in a strong submission to try to attract this new agency.

“Western Australia and the Mid West have a long history in this sector and for that to be disregarded by Mark McGowan speaks volumes,” she said.

“At the end of the day, the South Australian Government offered more than $77 million in support for the agency to be based in Adelaide.”

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