10 May 2023

Traditional Owners willing to sit down with spaceport consortium

| Cape York Weekly
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TRADITIONAL owners from the Western Cape have yet to be formally approached by the company interested in building a spaceport near Weipa but say they are not opposed to the idea.

Mokwiri Aboriginal Corporation chair Charles Budby said that CosmoVision Global had yet to make formal contact with the Traditional Owner group.

“We are not opposed to (the spaceport idea),” Mr Budby said.

“We’ve had several approaches previously from businesses and they will be treated like everyone else.”

Mokwiri has strict requirements of engagement with businesses who want to operate on their land.

“Usually we have our solicitors get that request,” Mr Budby said.

Cape York Weekly understands that CosmoVision Global wants to build the spaceport on Mokwiri land, around 35km from Weipa.

Mr Budby said the proposal would need to benefit Traditional Owners to get approved.

“We’d like all of our Traditional Owners to be in the best position,” he said.

“The industry comes with a technical nous that we don’t have.

“If there’s an opportunity to inspire our young ones, then certainly (we’ll look at it).”

CosmoVision Global spokeswoman April Pressler said the company had hired a specific person to discuss the plans with local Traditional Owners.

“We’ve hired a liaison officer consultant who is probably one of the best in Australia at this kind of thing,” she said.

“We want to make sure that the Cape York Land Council, elders and Traditional Owners are across the idea and plan and support it.”

Ms Pressler said there would be a number of employment opportunities for people in Cape York.

“We think that 150 jobs will be created and quite of lot of them will be locally sourced,” she said.

“Obviously not all of them will be but we will provide training for any appropriate roles.”

A number of boxes would still need to be ticked for the project to get the green light.

The Australian Space Agency is one hurdle.

Ms Pressler said it was becoming a “chicken and egg situation” with approvals and investors. To get more investors, they need approval, but to get to the approval stage, they need to raise funds.

The environmental impact of a rocket launch site in Cape York also has to be considered.

However, CosmoVision Global favours the Western Cape because of its environmental attributes.

“There’s not a big population, you aren’t located on the Great Barrier Reef and the proximity to the equator is advantageous,” Ms Pressler said.

“At this stage, we are planning for about four to five rocket launches a year, so it won’t be a lot of impact on local residents.”

Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is an in-principle supporter of the plan as it would help bring more jobs to the Western Cape outside of mining.

“You have to look past what Rio Tinto is doing at Weipa and try and find more industry,” he said.

“This idea looks perfect on paper and should be supported if it looks feasible.”

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