The Federal Government has agreed to host a ground station for a US strategic and military satellite communications system in Geraldton, Western Australia.
The announcement was made by the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson. The government used today’s Question Time in the House of Representatives attack the ALP over its attitude to the US alliance, particularly that of Peter Garrett. Nelson quoted from lyrics from Midnight Oil songs and other writings by Garrett.
This is the text of a media release from the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson.
AUSTRALIA-US JOINT COMMUNICATIONS FACILITY TO BE HOSTED AT GERALDTON
The Government has agreed to host a ground station for a US strategic and military satellite communications system at the Australian Defence Satellite Communication Station (ADSCS) located at Geraldton in Western Australia. The new ground station will be sited within the grounds of ADSCS but will be unrelated to the existing activities of ADSCS which will remain under separate Australian control.
The ground station will form part of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). MUOS, in simple terms, will be a satellite-based mobile phone network. MUOS will support US and Australian users, including deployed forces. The ground station at Geraldton will comprise three small buildings housing the electronic infrastructure, power and spares, three 18 metre satellite dishes and two smaller antenna covering an area of approximately 12,000 square metres or less than the size of two and a half rugby fields. Once complete, it will be unmanned requiring only call-out contractor maintenance support.
It will be a joint Australia – US ground station, it will not be a US military base. The facility will be hosted as all other Australian-US joint facilities – on the basis of our full knowledge and concurrence.
Final details are expected to be agreed soon between the US and Australian Defence Departments.
Other joint facilities already hosted by Australia are the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap and the Joint Geological and Geophysical Research Station and in addition, the US has access to the Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt.
JOINT DEFENCE FACILITY PINE GAP
The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is a satellite ground station whose function is to collect intelligence data which supports the national security of both Australia and the United States. Intelligence collected at Pine Gap contributes importantly to the verification of arms control and disarmament agreements.
NAVAL COMMUNICATIONS STATION HAROLD E HOLT
Harold E Holt is a radio relay station, passing messages between Australia and US command centres and their respective ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. It became a joint facility in 1974 and since May 1999 it has operated as an Australian facility to which the US has full access.
JOINT GEOLOGICAL AND GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH STATION
The Joint Geological and Geophysical Research Station is a seismic monitoring station originally established to monitor nuclear explosions during the Cold War. It still does monitor such explosions as part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It also monitors earthquakes. It is jointly operated by Geoscience Australia and the US Air Force.