Stawell gift to understanding the universe

Dan Tehan has found high-science research he likes – with the budget allocating $5m to searching for dark matter

It’s part of a “global effort to answer some of the biggest questions about the universe,” the education minister announces. So how, pray does building a physics lab in an old gold mine under the Victorian country town of Stawell meet Mr Tehan’s national interest test, which require research to provide, “economic, commercial, environmental, social or cultural benefits to the Australian economy.”

Beyond ticking the economic benefit box for Stawell, suffering since the gold mine stopped being a goldmine, it probably doesn’t. But it does deliver on something bigger – humanity likes to know stuff and stuff does not get much stuffer than dark matter – which apparently, the universe is full of, but nobody knows what it is.

Yes, Stawell is in Mr Tehan’s electorate of Wannon, but it wasn’t when when the project received federal funding, in the 2015 budget.

(Lisa Clausen wrote a great story on Stawell’s new gold mine for SBS, here.)


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