Deputy Premier John Barilaro unveils stage one of Newcastle Airport’s world class Astra Aerolab

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Newcastle Airport and the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct (SAP) are set to be the epicentre of the region’s concerted push into international defence and aerospace industries after a major unveiling today at Williamtown.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro officially launched the Airport’s globally significant aerospace precinct – Astra Aerolab and unveiled a plaque commemorating the event alongside the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Nuatali Nelmes, and Mayor of Port Stephens, Ryan Palmer.

Also speaking at the event were representatives from two organisations who have signed key agreements with Astra Aerolab – major defence contractor BAE Systems Australia and Leading Edge Data Centres.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the essential infrastructure will 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, and this site has already been transformed to pave the way for a world-leading defence and aerospace precinct,” Mr Barilaro said.

“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 region.

“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.”

Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock thanked the NSW Government for its $11.7million investment in Astra and expanded further about what was to come in the precinct.

“We are creating something here at Williamtown that is totally unique,” he said.

“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.

“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.

“The NSW Government has joint funded the first stage of the development and doubled down by declaring a SAP with Astra at its heart.

“Stage one has employed 70 fulltime staff through the depths of the pandemic when economic activity was so vital to regions. We have developed the site sustainably from the outset, including establishing over 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 milestone that is incredibly important for our business,” he said.

“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.

“This is a place that our staff will want to work in and 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 – uniquely placed to offer a dedicated home for defence and aerospace innovation.

More information on the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct is available at www.nsw.gov.au/WilliamtownSAP