An Australian research facility built a kilometre underground in a disused section of a gold mine will be part of a global effort to answer some of the biggest questions about the universe.
The Morrison Government is providing $5 million to build the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL) at the Stawell Gold Mine in Stawell, western Victoria.
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the facility would be the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
"Building the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory deep underground will allow researchers to conduct experiments that rely on precise measurements using some of the world’s most sensitive scientific equipment," Mr Tehan said.
"It is also means experiments are conducted away from unwanted radiation sources, such as solar particles.
"This facility will be at the forefront of international efforts to prove the existence of dark matter and will also give Australian scientists a better understanding of our universe.
"The Morrison Government is investing in regional Australia, and this facility is an investment in a smarter future by growing higher education and research capacity in regional Victoria.
"Because of our strong economic management, we can afford to invest in world-leading research without increasing taxes.
"This project will create jobs during the construction and fit-out stage as well as full-time roles operating the facility. This facility will also attract researchers from around the world, and grow Australia’s reputation as a world-class research destination."
The facility will be run by the University of Melbourne with experiments expected to begin in early 2020.
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said the University of Melbourne welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement on the construction of the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory.
"The SUPL will allow our researchers, led by founding SUPL Director Professor Elisabetta Barberio, to search for dark matter, the so-far undiscovered elementary particle that perhaps makes up a quarter of the universe," Professor Maskell said.
"The University looks forward to working with our partners, including ANSTO and fellow universities, to deliver this important project.
"We thank the Government for supporting innovative research infrastructure in regional Australia."