The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Tasmania will benefit from 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan

Media release
28 October 2013

The Government today kicked off its commitment to deliver a 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan which will deliver investment and jobs for Tasmania.

The Plan will be headed by Dr Tony Press and will draw on a panel of experts in relevant fields and involve consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and the general public.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt, during a visit to the Australian Antarctic Division headquarters in Hobart, unveiled the Terms of Reference for the Plan and tasked Dr Tony Press to begin work.

The Government is committed to building on Australia's proud Antarctic legacy by ensuring we remain engaged, active and visible as a leading Antarctic nation and by further expanding Tasmania's position as a centre for research and Antarctic services.

With a leading presence in Antarctica for more than 100 years it is a critical time to look at how we strengthen Australia's scientific research and maintain our strong presence.

Hobart is already a major hub of Antarctic research. Dr Press will recommend options to build on this and further stimulate economic, social, research and policy benefits deriving from Tasmania's status as an Antarctic gateway.

Dr Press is due to complete the report by July next year.

Tasmanian Senator David Bushby joined Minister Hunt for the announcement today. Senator Bushby is committed to the Coalition Government's promise to boost the Tasmanian economy and deliver more jobs, higher wages and better services.

The Government has already committed significant new investment to support Tasmania's Antarctic role. This includes $38 million for the extension of Hobart International Airport, $24 million to establish a new Centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research, and $25 million for the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centres.

Australia is already playing a leading scientific role in Antarctic research. This year's Australian Antarctic program involves a range of world class science projects, including a major multi-nation project which will reveal Antarctic climate records.

The Australian Antarctic Division's Dr Mark Curran will lead a team of 15 partner organisations from Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany and the United States to drill a 2000 to 3000-year ice core at Aurora Basin in east Antarctica.

Over six weeks, beginning December 2013, 24 scientists will drill a 400 metre-long ice core at the remote site, 550 kms from Australia's Casey station.

A further two shorter cores of about 120 m and covering the last 1000 years will also be drilled for further studies on climate and ice properties.

This project has been several years in the planning and requires considerable logistics to move accommodation and equipment to support the team.

In all, around 26 tonnes of camp and drilling equipment will be carried on an overland traverse by heavy vehicles, across 1300 kms of the icecap.

The traverse, to be joined by the Australian Antarctic Division's head of Climate Processes and Change, Dr Tas van Ommen, will be managed by a 14-strong team of colleagues from the French station Dumont d'Urville.

The Aurora Basin project is a clear illustration of Australia's ongoing determination to not only continue significant and relevant research but also to strengthen our international collaboration in Antarctica.

Greg Hunt

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