JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH SENATOR THE HON ERIC ABETZ, MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT
The Australian Government is today releasing the 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan, which provides a blueprint for Australia’s future engagement in the region and options to expand Tasmania’s role as a leading Antarctic science and logistics hub.
Australia has a long and proud history in Antarctica and we must ensure that role continues.
The report, which delivers on an election commitment, examines the challenges ahead and provides recommendations on how the Federal and State Governments, working with business, researchers and the wider community can achieve that outcome.
The Government commissioned Dr Tony Press, former Director of the Australian Antarctic Division and former CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, to critically assess Australia’s national interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
Minister Hunt thanked Dr Press for his work and encouraged the community to read the report.
“Dr Press’ report gives a frank assessment of the current situation and makes a number of recommendations as to how Australia can remain a leader in Antarctica – a position we have maintained for more than 100 years,” Minister Hunt said.
The preparation of the report involved a comprehensive review of Australia’s Antarctic interests and extensive consultation with experts, stakeholders and the general public.
The report outlines an ambitious vision for Australia to work towards over the next 20 years.
The report contains recommendations on a range of key issues, including:
• Protecting Australia’s national interests in Antarctica;
• Supporting and leading national and international Antarctic science;
• Building economic benefits for Tasmania as an Antarctic Gateway city;
• Australia’s future Antarctic station operations, transport and deep field traverse capabilities and support for large field-based research campaigns; and
• Effective administration of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Some key specific recommendations include:
• Australia should work to ensure that the Antarctic Treaty System remains strong and stable.
• Australia should establish Hobart as the world’s leading Antarctic gateway by, among other things, entering into agreements with other Antarctic Treaty Parties to base their operations out of Hobart.
• Australia should continue to engage in, promote and facilitate international collaboration in Antarctic science and governance.
• The Australian and Tasmanian Governments should work together to build Tasmania’s capacity to be a leading global gateway to East Antarctica.
The Government’s Senate Leader Senator Eric Abetz said Tasmania already has very strong links to Australia’s Antarctic program.
“There are opportunities to expand this even further and to encourage other nations to use Hobart as a hub for their Antarctic research and logistics,” Senator Abetz said
“This report reveals exciting possibilities for further international collaboration in Antarctic science, centred in Hobart.”
“The Federal Government is keen to work with the Tasmanian Government to explore these options.”
Australia has always been a leader in Antarctica and we are committed to maintaining and expanding Australia’s well regarded status in Antarctic science, operations, policy and diplomacy.
The report also recommends the acquisition of a new icebreaker to replace the aging Aurora Australis. Indeed, the Government has made the most significant investment in infrastructure for Antarctica, with the decision to purchase the new icebreaker. The Request for Tender process is currently underway.
“This investment is critical for our long term strategic interest in Antarctica remaining a place of peace and science, and it is fundamental to our ability to carry out research and work cooperatively with other Antarctic nations,” said Minister Hunt.
The Government has already made $87 million in commitments to Australia’s Antarctic interests, including: funding for the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre ($25 million over five years); creating an Antarctic Gateway Partnership involving the Australian Antarctic Division, the University of Tasmania and the CSIRO ($24 million over 3 years); and the Hobart Airport runway extension ($38 million).
The Government will now consider the report in detail and consult widely on the recommendations before providing a formal response in the coming months.
We are confident that we can build on Australia’s proud history of Antarctic leadership and set us on a positive path for the next 20 years of Australian Antarctic endeavour.
The 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan is available to download from: www.20yearplan.antarctica.gov.au/home