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NSW government launches defence and technology precinct

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An Australian F-35. The aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Williamtown from the end of 2018. Source: Department of Industry

The NSW government plans to create a defence, aviation, aerospace and technology precinct, set to generate over 5,500 jobs in the Hunter region.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the government will put up $11.7 million in funding for the facility, which will be located near RAAF Base Wiliamtown.

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Barilaro said the new Astra Aerolab will house maintenance and support services for RAAF aircraft and will inject $246 million into the NSW economy.

 “This investment will capitalise on the existing economic strengths of the region, securing 76 hectares of special purpose land committed to defence and aviation related industry and employment,” he said.

“Over its lifetime, this new precinct will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, including roles for aviation IT and avionic specialists, mechanics and engineers, in the Hunter.

“This is an exciting announcement in one of the state’s most exciting industries and regions.”

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Australia’s combat aircraft, like the new F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter and Hawk 127 lead-in fighter require significant long-term maintenance and upkeep.

The new precinct aims to create an opening for businesses to address that demand.

NSW Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair said the news couldn’t come at a better time and follows the NSW government’s recent commitment of $400,000 for the STEMship Program.

That will equip Hunter students with the technical skills they need to work in the defence and aviation industries.

 “The precinct will deliver employment opportunities across a range of professions, creating jobs in industries with an important future,” Minister Blair said.

“With this project we are actively creating attractive, engaging career pathways for people living in the regions, supporting local economies and backing our local defence industry.”

Newcastle Airport chief executive Peter Cock said he was very proud to be working with the NSW government on Astra Aerolab.

“As a community-owned asset, we take our role in generating economic and social outcomes seriously. We want to create a precinct that fuels pride as well as growth – a place where people and businesses want to work,” he said.

“In the Hunter, Astra Aerolab, adjacent to the Newcastle Airport, RAAF Base Williamtown, coupled with our unbeatable lifestyle will do just that.”

Newcastle Airport will use the $11.7 million of NSW government funding towards water, sewer, gas, electrical and broadband connections, as well as construction of a major access road.

Newcastle Airport will co-contribute $7.86 million to the $19.66 million project to activate the lead in road and initial site preparation.

 Parliamentary secretary for the Central Coast and Hunter Scot MacDonald said the precinct was in a prime location to tap into existing manufacturing and supply chain businesses for trade and distribution.

Newcastle Airport and major rail and road links are nearby.

“This a fantastic project that will give our local economy a boost and secure the long-term viability of both the Williamtown Base and Newcastle Airport,” he said.

NSW government launches defence and technology precinct
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