“We are creating something here that is totally unique,” Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock announced at the launch of its world-class aerospace district Astra Aerolab today.
With the airport and Williamtown Special Activation Precinct (SAP) making a concerted push into international defence and space industries, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro was on hand to officially celebrate the facility’s latest milestone.
He, along with Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer and representatives from BAE Systems Australia and Leading Edge Data Centres – who have signed key agreements with Astra Aerolab, also unveiled a plaque commemorating the event on Tuesday 8 December.
Mr Barilaro admitted the essential infrastructure would kick-start the site’s development, driving innovation and collaboration in the Hunter and benefitting the local community through the creation of thousands of jobs.
“I turned the first sod on this project 18 months ago,” he said.
“And, the site has already been transformed to pave the way for a world-leading defence and aerospace precinct.
“This will allow aviation companies to establish themselves at this new location, as well as create jobs for aerospace engineers, aviation, IT and avionics specialists and attract workers to the Hunter.
“I want to thank Newcastle Airport, the City of Newcastle and Port Stephens Council for their hard work and commitment to making this project a reality.”
Mr Cock thanked the NSW Government for its $11.7 million investment.
“Astra Aerolab is a place where world-leading defence, research, aerospace and industry partners will converge to push boundaries, embrace new technologies and develop the jobs for the future,” he said.
“It will be truly uplifting for both businesses and their employees.
“We are determined that it will connect a global workforce with the RAAF Base Williamtown and Newcastle Airport – and is also a place where people will want to work.
“That’s why we’ve put so much effort in developing an environment that is designed to drive high performance.
“Today is certainly a very proud moment for the airport and more broadly for our region.
“We have taken a great idea and were supported by a forward-looking government committed to developing regional NSW.”
Mr Cock said the NSW Government had joint-funded the initial phase of the development – and doubled down by declaring a SAP with Astra at its heart.
“Stage one has employed 70 full-time staff through the depths of the pandemic when economic activity was so vital to regions,” he stated.
“We have developed the site sustainably from the outset, including establishing more than 200,000 plants and retention of a historically-significant Aboriginal keeping place.
“Certainly, the presence of companies such as Leading Edge Data Centres and BAE gives us confidence that we have got it right.”
BAE Systems Australia managing direct defence delivery Andrew Gresham said the company saw huge potential in Astra Aerolab.
“Today is a great day for the region and signifies a landmark that is incredibly important for our business,” he explained.
“BAE Systems has secured significant contracts to support Australia’s F-35 fleet, which offer never-before-seen opportunities for Australian industry.
“Astra Aerolab will facilitate the continued investment in our Williamtown site ahead of work supporting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in Australia.
“I share the excitement of others here [today] in terms of what the future of Williamtown holds.”
Leasing opportunities are available now at Astra Aerolab.
The development precinct provides facilities located adjacent to both the Airport and RAAF Base Williamtown – exclusively placed to offer a dedicated home for defence and aerospace innovation.
Further information on the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct is available at www.nsw.gov.au/WilliamtownSAP