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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6275


Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:51): I congratulate the Australian government on successfully bidding for the rights to co-host the world's largest radio telescope, the $2 billion Square Kilometre Array. The Square Kilometre Array will see thousands of small receptors built across Australia, South Africa and New Zealand that, when combined, will cover an area of around one square kilometre and represent a truly international effort to expand our knowledge of the universe and our place in it. This revolutionary new radio telescope will give scientists from across the globe the ability to peer further into space and further back in time than ever before in an attempt to answer age-old questions such as: how do galaxies evolve, what is dark matter, how were the first black holes formed and, of course, are we alone in the universe?

The core Australian site is in Murchison, WA, a radio-quiet zone around 300 kilometres north-east of Geraldton. The SKA will result in around 100 new jobs in WA during the construction phase and a further 100 jobs by the end of the decade, when the Perth based operations facility is due to come online. However, the Square Kilometre Array is about more than jobs. This international project will put WA on the map for astronomy and I expect that it will spark more people's interest in science, particularly young people. As International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research Director, Peter Quinn, told the Sydney Morning Herald, the SKA is like the Apollo of our generation and, as Sputnik once inspired millions, the Square Kilometre Array will inspire billions for decades to come.