Barton Deakin Brief: Investment in Australian Antarctica
Tuesday 22 February 2022
Today, the Morrison Government has announced that it will invest $804.4 million over the next ten years to strengthen Australia’s strategic and scientific capabilities in the region. This is in an effort to boost its influence in the region amidst growing competition and protect the Antarctic Treaty. It is hoped that this will strengthen Australia’s national interest in Antarctica and be a jobs boost for Australians through local procurement. Of note is the investment in drone fleets, helicopters, and other vehicles which will enable the exploration of inland East Antarctica.
The Antarctic treaty governs nations’ dealings in the region. It has paused territorial claims in the region, banned mining and military activity, and stipulated many other provisions. Australia claims 42% of the Antarctic landmass, including much of the eastern inland. In recent years there has been concern that nations, especially China, have been developing within inland Antarctica. Investment in Australian capability to monitor inland Chinese bases will improve our ability to uphold the treaty and secure Australian claims in the event of a treaty breakdown. Furthermore, the investment will be able to be used to improve Australian scientific research of inland Antarctica.
- $136.6 million to support Australia’s inland traverse capability, critical charting activities, mobile stations, environmental protection and other core activities
- $109 million to increase aerial and inland capability:
- $60.6 million for drone fleets and other autonomous vehicles able to map inaccessible and fragile areas of East Antarctic, establishing an ‘Antarctic eye’ with integrated censors and cameras feeding real-time information
- $35 million for four new medium lift helicopters with a range of 550 kilometres that when launched from the Nuyina can access parts of the continent we could never reach previously
- $13.6 million for capability development to further enhance Australia’s reach inland including investigations into modern intracontinental aeroplanes
- $44.2 million in additional shipping support to enable the RSV Nuyina to focus on extended science voyages
- $17.4 million for marine science in the Southern Ocean and a new state-of-the-art krill aquarium in Hobart
- $14.3 million for environmental management including a ‘Cleaner Antarctica Strategy’ to remove legacy waste and to establish new ‘geographic information system’ technology to support environmental management
- $7.4 million for research focused on Antarctic ice sheet science to build global understanding of climate change impacts – improving our ability to support Pacific partners to monitor information about climate and oceans, including sea level rise
- $3.4 million to enhance Australia’s international engagement to support the rules and norms of the Antarctic Treaty system and promote Australia’s leadership in Antarctic affairs
You can access the Prime Minister’s Media Release here.
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