Region hopeful of spaceport plan

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Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser

Kimberley business leaders, residents and politicians are hopeful a proposal to blast rockets into orbit from Derby will go ahead, calling it a big opportunity for economic growth and international exposure.

The West Kimberley town was thrust into the spotlight last week when the Ukraine Government’s desire to build a spaceport outside the Curtin Royal Australian Air Force base, 35km from Derby, was made public.

The State Space Agency of Ukraine pitched the idea as an answer to the nation’s dream of a launch facility and said it needed State and Federal Government support to investigate land availability and tenure, environmental approvals and native title issues.

Shire of Derby West Kimberley president Geoff Haerewa said he first became aware of the proposal in December after he was briefed by WA Senator Linda Reynolds.

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He said the spaceport would be an exciting prospect for Derby and the wider Kimberley.

“We are very hopeful this would go ahead because of the great benefits it would bring to the town,” he said.

“It would bring with it a large number of people, which would support local businesses and the economy.

“There is no doubt there would be flow-on effects for Broome. It really would support the Kimberley region as a whole. But for now it’s a waiting game for us at the Shire.

“We cannot do anything until we hear from those driving it.”

Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer said the region had “potential for a thriving space industry”. “We have an abundance of open space, WA has world-class universities, clever people and our perfect geography,” she said. “The State Government would welcome any approach from groups interested in investing in regional WA.” Regional Development Australia Kimberley chairwoman Elsia Archer said she was optimistic it could open tourism opportunities.

“I am very pleased that this is being investigated,” she said.

“It is a long way off yet, but I would hope that, at times, there could be a chance for tourists to see the facility.”

Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said the proposal was fantastic. “This would benefit not only Derby, but the wider Kimberley region,” he said.

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