MBIE gets Orwellian on Square Kilometre Array telescope

New Zealand's astronomy community is reported to be making a last ditch effort to keep the country involved in the massive SKA project

New Zealand's astronomy community is reported to be making a last ditch effort to keep the country involved in the massive Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project, but the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which was leading New Zealand's involvement, has not only withdrawn, it appears to have removed the record of its involvement.

(The Government announced $294 million for the Square Kilometre Array, as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) in December 2015).

The web page that had been created to detail New Zealand's involvement, www.ska.govt.nz, has been redirected to the Australian Government's page detailing that country's role.

A web page on the MBIE site dated May 19 2018, headed "MBIE is leading New Zealand's involvement with the international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array," has been taken down.

A web page dated 4 April 2018 detailing "New Zealand's involvement in building the world's largest radio telescope," has also been taken down. 

The text of the SKA convention and associated protocols was opened for initialling in Rome on 23 May 2018. The Government announced at that time that it did not intend to sign the convention and become a full member of the SKA Observatory, but instead would "explore options for associate membership under a bespoke agreement with the SKA Observatory."

It said the associate membership agreement would determine opportunities for research organisations and firms in New Zealand, subject to negotiation.

The Government announced in 2012 that hosting rights for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope would be split between Australia-New Zealand and South Africa.

Then minister for science and Innovation, Steven Joyce hailed the announcement as "a significant win for science and astronomy research in New Zealand and Australia."

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Tags Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

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