Omega was a 'nuclear target'
Australian Cabinet papers reveal that their Government confronted protestors in installing an Omega site on their territory.
Released papers from 1978 reveal that the Fraser Government's decision to host one of the Omega transmitting sites angered anti-nuclear protesters, who saw the facility as a capitulation to US power, also making Australia a nuclear target.
The Omega station was installed in remote east Gippsland - a rural region of south-east Victoria state. The US paid $14 million for the base's construction. Police apparently spent years breaking up demonstrations - the biggest in 1982, when 18 were arrested.
In 1993, the Government's Minister for Transport and Communications explained that the $1.2 million annual running costs were recovered from commercial shipping via the Marine Navigation Levy. But he advised the Cabinet that the bilateral agreement with the US should be terminated because the technology was dated and 'virtually no Australian flag ships carry Omega receivers and only some 6% of international ships visiting Australia do'. The cabinet agreed and scrapped the arrangement with the US, handing the facility to the Bureau of Meteorology, which used it to track weather balloons until 1997.
Omega used 3 VLF frequencies in the band 10-14 kHz; with high-powered transmitters, only 8 sites covered the entire world, giving accuracy of about 5 NM. It became operational around 1971 and was shut down in 1997, with the arrival of an operational GPS.
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Photo credit: Jason South