The NSW government has announced $11.7 million in funding to create a defence, aviation, aerospace and technology precinct in the Hunter region.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro made the announcement at Newcastle Airport with Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot Macdonald and Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock, while overlooking the site of the new precinct near RAAF Base Williamtown.

The new ‘Astra Aerolab’ will house maintenance and support services for Australian fighter jets and drive $246 million into the NSW economy. According to Barilaro, it will created 5,500 jobs.

“This investment will capitalise on the existing economic strengths of the region, securing 76 hectares of special purpose land committed to defence and aviation- related industry and employment,” Barilaro said.

“Over its lifetime, this new precinct will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs including roles for aviation IT and avionic specialists, mechanics and engineers, in the Hunter. This is an exciting announcement in one of the state’s most exciting industries and regions.”

The new precinct will create an opening for businesses to address the demand for long-term maintenance and upkeep on Australian combat aircraft, including F-35s.

The news follows the NSW Government’s recent commitment of $400,000 for the STEMship program, which will equip Hunter students with the technical skills they need to work in the defence and aviation industries.

“The precinct will deliver employment opportunities across a range of professions, creating jobs in industries with an important future,” Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair said.

“With this project we are actively creating attractive, engaging career pathways for people living in the regions, supporting local economies and backing our local defence industry.”

Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock said he was very proud to be working with the NSW Government on Astra Aerolab.

“As a community-owned asset, we take our role in generating economic and social outcomes seriously. We want to create a precinct that fuels pride as well as growth – a place where people and businesses want to work,” Cock said.

Newcastle Airport will use the NSW Government funding to pay for water, sewer, gas, electrical and broadband connections, as well as the construction of a major access road. Newcastle Airport will co-contribute $7.86 million to the $19.66 million projects to activate the lead in the road and initial site preparation.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Hunter Scot MacDonald said the precinct is in prime position to tap into existing manufacturing and supply chain businesses for trade and distribution with Newcastle Airport and major rail and road links nearby.

“This a fantastic project that will give our local economy a boost and secure the long-term viability of both the Williamtown Base and Newcastle Airport,” MacDonald said.


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