The state I live in is small in population. It isn't the smallest but it comes close to it.
There is a vast amount of desert. In that desert there is a "prohibited area" where objects are launched into space. It is the best area in the world for doing it - and one of the busiest.
My maternal uncle went to and from the area hundreds of times in his working life. He never spoke about what he was doing there. He must have had a top level security clearance but, as children, we were told nothing. What little we knew about his work sounded dull to us. It probably was dull. Research is much less exciting than most people believe.
My uncle has been gone for some years now but I wonder what he would make of a decision by the current federal government to base a space agency in this state instead of the nation's capital. It makes sense - unless perhaps you plan direct flights from the nation's capital to the prohibited area.
It makes sense because this state will still have the prohibited area within its borders. There are other facilities in place and two of the universities already have related courses which they can now expand on.
Or, they might be able to do all of this. Yesterday there were hints that the hoped for jobs boost might after all be denied us. Today there are more hints. There is no ringing endorsement from the Opposition.
The Opposition is expecting to walk in at the next election. They have been ahead in the opinion polls for many, many months. Their leader, the likely next Prime Minister, is unpopular but people are still willing to vote for the party. He is said to be "union bred, union fed and union led". It is a fair description. His position does depend on what the unions want.
And therein lies the problem. The choice of location is not popular with the other states. At very least they want a slice of the space pie. They would prefer to have the lot.
When asked to endorse this particular space pie remaining in this state the Leader of the Opposition did not give any firm commitments, nor did his colleagues. Yesterday I asked one of them what the situation was and received a very evasive reply. It didn't surprise me.
I wonder what my uncle would make of this. I think he would be disappointed. This state has produced some world class scientists, including William Lawrence Bragg and his son William Henry Bragg who jointly won the 1915 Nobel Prize for physics. That might have been 103 years ago but their university has had three more Nobel Prize winners on the staff since then. They also had the Antarctic explorer Mawson and many other scientists who have made an impact on science including astronaut Andy Thomas and psychologist Michael White whose discovery of "White's illusion" changed thinking about the way we perceive the world.
We can go on nurturing those sort of people if the resources are there but we will need to fight back and fight back hard to keep our space pie
Friday, 14 December 2018
We have been bullied
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