Tele­scope ex­tends US al­liance

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

Ex­mouth is set to be­come a crit­i­cal player in pro­tect­ing the Na­tional Broad­band Net­work with con­struc­tion to start on a fa­cil­ity to house a new high-tech tele­scope from the United States.

The Space Sur­veil­lance Tele­scope Sys­tem will soon be moved from the US to Naval Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sta­tion Harold E. Holt.

A De­part­ment of De­fence spokesman said con­struc­tion of the SST site was due to be­gin in Jan­uary 2017, with op­er­at­ing ca­pa­bil­ity mooted for the end of 2019.

One of its roles will be to mon­i­tor space junk and other threats which may com­pro­mise im­por­tant satel­lites, such as those sup­port­ing the NBN, along­side the nearby C-Band radar and other sur­veil­lance sys­tems.

Fed­eral De­fence Min­is­ter Marise Payne said the tele­scope would bring a third facet of de­fence pres­ence to Ex­mouth and a unique ca­pa­bil­ity to Aus­tralia.

“I think (Ex­mouth) is recog­nised as be­ing a very im­por­tant lo­ca­tion for a lot of the work we do in­ter­na­tion­ally and I’m very pleased to see we’re go­ing to have this tele­scope un­der way quite soon,” she said.

“It’s a recog­ni­tion of the im­por­tance of the re­la­tion­ship and the ex­tremely strate­gic al­liance we have with the United States.

“I’ve made it very clear that I ex­pect to see a pro­vi­sion in the con­tract­ing pro­cesses which ad­dresses the en­gage­ment of lo­cal trades, lo­cal busi­nesses as much as pos­si­ble.”

Ms Payne said ex­act de­tails for lo­cal con­tent re­quire­ments were not yet avail­able as the project was still in the plan­ning process.

The SST will be able to quickly track ob­jects at very long ranges and can scan large sec­tions of the sky, sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanc­ing the space sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity of Aus­tralia and the US.

Du­rack MHR Melissa Price said con­struc­tion, up­grade and main­te­nance of the fa­cil­ity rep­re­sented

sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic in­vest­ment and op­por­tu­nity for Ex­mouth and sur­rounds.

“It’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure we have a good pol­icy and lo­cal peo­ple from all across Du­rack ac­tu­ally get those op­por­tu­ni­ties,” she said.

“De­fence has main­tained a strong long-term re­la­tion­ship with the re­gion and town of Ex­mouth for al­most 50 years and this com­mit­ment will con­tinue into the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

Ms Price said busi­nesses from across Du­rack should ex­pect op­por­tu­ni­ties to pro­vide an­cil­lary ser­vices for projects at Harold E. Holt and the Lear­month Air Base com­ing out of the De­fence White Pa­per.

Shire of Ex­mouth pres­i­dent Turk Shales said lo­cal busi­nesses were look­ing for­ward to the op­por­tu­nity to work on the fa­cil­ity.

“There’s a good two years’ worth of work for a lot peo­ple,” he said.

“The Shire is ex­tremely thank­ful to the Mem­ber for Du­rack for her on­go­ing sup­port of our re­gion.”

Mr Shales said res­i­dents un­der­stood some of the more highly spe­cialised tasks may have to be un­der­taken from com­pa­nies out­side of the re­gion.

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