Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government’s $387 million investment in the world’s largest radio telescope will put Australia at the cutting edge of science and technology research and create hundreds of jobs.
The investment will help build part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope in Western Australia’s Murchison region.
It will create more than 350 jobs during the 10-year construction phase and a further 230 ongoing positions over the 50-year life of the project, Mr Morrison said in a statement on Wednesday night.
“Our investment in the construction and operations of the SKA will build our manufacturing capacity within the highly-skilled technology sector, and enable major scientific breakthroughs to be made right here in Western Australia.”
Mr Morrison said the SKA will help scientists better understand the origin and future of stars and galaxies and how gravity works across the universe.
The $387 million Budget commitment includes $64.4 million to establish a specialist super-computing centre to be based in Perth to process data generated by the SKA.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said several Australian companies had already developed and manufactured components for the telescope prototypes and precursor telescopes.
“As well as creating hundreds of local jobs, our economic modelling indicates the project will attract an estimated $1.8 billion in foreign income flows into Australia as a result of the SKA’s first 30 years of operations,” he said.
The SKA is an international collaboration between 16 member countries, including: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Australia will build and host the low-frequency part of the telescope (SKA-Low), which includes up to 131,072 individual SKA antennas, shaped like Christmas trees. The mid-frequency element (SKA-Mid) will be hosted by South Africa.
Global construction activities are expected to begin in the second half of this year, with work expected to begin in WA from early next year.
Australian Associated Press