The Western Australian Government has poured an additional $10.8 million into Australia's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.
The $10.8 million figure announced by WA Science and Innovation Minister John Day will go to fund new roads, power and fibre to link Geraldton to the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), 315km north-east of Geraldton, in preparation for the SKA.
The SKA is a $2.2 billion project that aims to develop a radio telescope made up of thousands of antennas that will be spread out across Australia and New Zealand. The antennas will be connected to a fibre network, and the data will be processed by a supercomputer.
The competition to host the SKA is tight; South Africa is going up against the Australian and New Zealand joint entry to host the site, which is expected to be announced in 2012.
Day said that in addition to helping Australia's bid for the SKA, the investment would also provide better broadband for a number of communities in regional WA.
"The route for the fibre installation from the MRO to Geraldton was planned with the City of Geraldton-Greenough to provide better connectivity for government buildings, the new technology precinct and Geraldton Airport," he said.
"The town of Mullewa and three pastoral stations along the route to Mullewa will also gain access to high speed broadband connections in exchange for housing repeater huts on their properties."
In the Federal Budget announced earlier this month, the Federal Government committed $40.2 million in funding over the next four years to boost Australia's chances to host the SKA.
Construction on the project is expected to start in 2016.