SA Premier’s new drive for space

Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

South Australia’s Premier has high hopes that the state will win the national competition to host Australia’s space agency, with a decision expected as soon as this week.

South Australia has made a major bid to host the headquarters of the agency along with an industry node, focusing its pitch on the state’s existing space sector capabilities, a wealth of potential launch sites, and its new, $450 million redevelopment of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital into a tech precinct.

“We are now waiting on an announcement by the federal government, which I think every person in South Australia is anxious about,” South Australia premier Steven Marshall said in question time last week.

“We would like to win as much of the project for the space agency here in South Australia. It is an important announcement by the federal government.”

“Every state has got a capability, every state has got a bid in. We have got a compelling and competitive bid.”

“It is a bid on behalf of all people in South Australia because we know this would be really fantastic for this state and it would augment already what we are doing on Lot Fourteen.”

Competition has been high among the states since it was revealed earlier this year that the federal government would not decide where the space agency would be based initially, instead tasking inaugural boss Dr Megan Clark with deciding by the end of the year.

Every state has now made a bid, with South Australia and Western Australia focusing on the availability of launch sites and industry links, while Victoria and New South Wales have led with the abundance of local companies and agencies.

The decision on where the space agency headquarters will be based is expected before the end of the year, but is may arrive as early as later this week.

If South Australia is successful, the South Australia Space Forum in Adelaide on Wednesday would make sense to make the announcement, with federal technology minister Karen Andrews to appear via video link in the morning.

The Council of Australian Governments meeting, also taking place in Adelaide, is on later this month and could also be suitable for the announcement.

Mr Marshall has met with several government heavyweights to make the pitch for the headquarters, although many of these are no longer in the same positions.

Earlier this year, Premier Marshall met with former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Defence Minister Marise Payne and former innovation minister Michaelia Cash to spruik the state’s space credentials.

He also welcomed Dr Clarke to the state in July and gave her a tour of the new Lot Fourteen site, claiming that the agency could be up and running in the area within six months.

Mr Marshall has previously said that he wants the state to be the “undisputed champion of the space industry”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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