10 May 2023

Interest in space centre skyrockets around Cape

| Matt Nicholls
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MORE details have emerged about a proposed spaceport that would result in a billion-dollar industry in Cape York.

Space Centre Australia visited Weipa and Napranum last week to meet with stakeholders and community members and discuss plans for the project, to be built near RAAF Base Scherger.

SCA founder James Palmer told a curious audience at the Albatross Bay Resort that talks were under way with the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund about bankrolling the construction of the spaceport, believed to be a cost of around $500 million.

“They have already given a green light on the application; there is just one caveat on our customer base,” Mr Palmer said of NAIF’s potential role.

“We’re confident that will go ahead but we can’t say who our customers will be just yet.”

SCA will be 100 per cent Australian owned and Mr Palmer told last Tuesday’s audience that he expected up to 290 full-time jobs to be created when the spaceport is at full capacity.

“There will be a mix of accommodation both on-site and off-site, but the majority of the workforce would be based in the Cape,” he said.

“Some roles would need to be filled externally and there would be a need for skilled visa workers at the beginning to help at the start.”

Environmental approvals will need to be sought before any construction commences, as will agreements between Traditional Owners and the Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council.

The proposed site is on the Napranum DOGIT and Mr Palmer said negations were ongoing between the council and the Mokwiri Aboriginal Corporation, the PBC for the local Traditional Owner groups.

“We’re not there yet but so far everything has been really positive,” he said.

“What we learnt is that we need to do a lot more engagement with Napranum and talk to as many people as possible.”

SCA scheduled two meetings in Napranum last Tuesday but struggled to draw an audience.

“That’s something we will keep working on and we are already thinking of doing a bit of a roadshow throughout the Cape next year to give everyone a chance to see what we’re about,” Mr Palmer said.

“It’s important that we hear the negative feedback, too, as we might be able to change things or reassure people if they have concerns.”

While in town, Mr Palmer also took the Regional Developmental Australia Tropical North team, as well as Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, to the proposed site to give them an insight as to the scale of the project.

“We’ve had plenty of support from both the RDA and Mr Entsch,” Mr Palmer said.

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