The two sites are the final combatants in a world-wide search for the best site for what will become the premier Earth-based radio-astronomy facility.
Distilling down the two proposals, South Africa offers a very radio-quiet site and the promise of improved science in a number of developing nations; alternately, Australia's proposal brings strong existing technology, an acknowledged easy-to-business-with economy and a much larger receiver base-line.
Based upon many thousands of radio telescopes (think: communications satellite dishes), the SKA offers the most detailed look at radio-wave astronomy the world has ever seen. The extra bonus of having out-stations many thousands of kilometres away serves to add to the resolution of the overall system.
Announcement of the winning bid will occur next year, but in the interim, tonight's Federal budget continues support for the Australian submission, with the Federal Government spending $40.2 million to promote the application, develop the proposal and help negotiations. Beyond that, Science Minister Kim Carr notes that $34 million will be provided for pre-construction work should the bid be successful.