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States in six-month bidding war for space agency

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The location of Australia’s new space agency will be decided during a six-month bidding war between states and territories.

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Western Australia and Victoria have already publicly made a case for the new agency, which will start on July 1.

South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT last year committed to jointly work on growing Australia’s space capabilities, with new SA Premier Steven Marshall pitching his state as the best home for the agency after the March election.

The agency will create hundreds of jobs, but will not be a NASA-style organisation, and will instead co-ordinate funding and policy to drive private sector growth.

“In its first six months of operation the space agency will engage and collaborate with the states, territories, academia and industry, and advise government of the most suitable strategic arrangements for its long-term location,” an Industry department spokeswoman said todayy.

Dr Megan Clark will lead the agency for the first year and she will talk with each state and territory to “properly identify what they can bring to the table”.

The decision on where the agency will eventually have its headquarters will be made closer to the end of the year.

WA Science Minister Dave Kelly on Monday released an ACIL Allen report outlining the state’s geographic advantages and its already thriving space industry.

Victorian Industry Minister Ben Carroll has requested a meeting with his federal counterpart by the end of June to press the state’s case.

Victoria is home to some of the world’s biggest names in aerospace, including Lockheed Martin, Thales, Boeing and BAE Systems.

“No other state or territory can boast having one in five space industry headquarters right here in Victoria, ready to go,” Carroll said on Monday.

But Australian Strategic Policy Institute space lead Dr Malcolm Davis says fighting between the states is “counter-productive” to the national goals of the agency.

It should not be considered as a “NASA Down Under” which built and launched space vehicles and ran space missions.

– AAP

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