By Luke Voogt
A newly-announced Australian Space Agency should make Geelong its home, according to former mayor Darryn Lyons.
“Why wouldn’t you want it here?” he said.
“Space is big business – look at the money the industry makes internationally.”
Mr Lyons’ call followed Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash announcing $26 million in the federal budget to establish the 21st Century agency.
Former CSIRO boss Megan Clark will head the agency in Canberra during its first six months but the government is yet to name a permanent location.
The agency would help triple Australia’s domestic space industry to $12 billion by 2030, creating up to 20,000 new jobs, Ms Cash announced in Perth on Monday.
The Western and South Australian governments were lobbying “heavily“ for the agency, with New South Wales and Victoria also bidding, InnovationAus.com reported.
But Mr Lyons said Geelong’s advanced manufacturing expertise and growing public sector made it an ideal location for the agency.
“We have an incredible situation,“ he said.
“People don’t realise how sensational the manufacturing is down here. It’s been a great success story.”
Mr Lyons said the agency would help raise the profile of Geelong and Deakin University’s advanced manufacturing hub, ManuFutures.
“We’re sending parts of everything all over Australia and the world.”
An international terminal under construciton at Avalon Airport would further enhance Geelong as a site for agency, Mr Lyons said.
Hundreds of IT professionals could also move to Geelong in the near future with companies like LiveTiles basing their new headquarters in the city.
The software company announced last November it would move to Geelong, creating 500 jobs.
Mr Lyons urged Geelong’s federal and state MPs to lobby the Commonwealth to bring the space agency here.
“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t be lobbying, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
“There’s been a very distinct lack of fight by our politicians – state and federal – to get things to Geelong.
“There’s no vision and no passion.”
Labor’s Federal Member for Corio, Richard Marles, declined to say whether he would lobby for the agency to settle in Geelong.
But Mr Marles said Geelong was well-placed to take advantage of the “blossoming“ space industry.
“This is absolutely an industry that Geelong could be a part of,” he said.
“Geelong has been at the forefront of manufacturing but also high-tech manufacturing because of the work that has been done by Deakin.
“Government needs to be speaking to a place like Geelong about the opportunities this represents.”
The Indy contacted Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson for comment but she failed to respond before the Indy went to press yesterday.