Aussie space agency slap down
FIGHTING among states over where the new national space agency will be located is counter-productive, a space expert says.
Western Australia and Victoria have launched campaigns calling for the new federal agency to be based in their states, hoping to benefit from space industry jobs.
But Australian Strategic Policy Institute space lead Dr Malcolm Davis says a decision on the agency's base needs to be made quickly to stop states fighting.
"What the states need to understand is the space agency is not going to be a NASA Down Under," Dr Davis told AAP on Monday.
"It's not going to be an all-encompassing organisation that builds hardware, launches hardware, runs space missions." Instead the agency will co-ordinate funding, research and policy in a bid to drive private sector investment.
WA Science Minister Dave Kelly on Monday released a report outlining the case for the agency to be based in the west.
The state's geographic advantages and the already thriving space industry make WA an intelligent choice, according to the ACIL Allen report. Victorian Industry Minister Ben Carroll has requested a meeting with his federal counterpart by the end of June to press the state's case.
"No other state or territory can boast having one in five space industry headquarters right here in Victoria, ready to go," he said.
Victoria is home to some of the world's biggest names in aerospace, including Lockheed Martin, Thales, Boeing and BAE Systems, each conducting research, development and manufacturing.
But Dr Davis said the agency is not going to be the job creator some think it is.
"The space agency might employ, at the most, a few hundred to a thousand people," he said.
"It's not going to employ 20,000 people." Dr Davis said the agency was meant to create the conditions for the private sector to flourish, rather than be a political football for states to fight over.
"Frankly it's counter-productive to allow this to go on," he said. "It's actually detracting from the whole purpose of the organisation, which is to develop Australia as a space power.
"I think it's ludicrous to say 'Victoria should have it over South Australia'. It's going to be a national activity."
The agency is due to begin operations on July 1, and Dr Davis says it should be based in Canberra.