Antarctic research receiving attention

Left: Les Field. Right: Will Howard

The Academy received widespread media coverage of its submission to the federal Government’s 20 Year Antarctic Strategic Plan, and was pleased to see proactive measures in the May Budget to support Australia’s research capabilities in the region.

The 20 Year Antarctic Strategic Plan, announced by the Government last year, aims to address the strategic importance of Australia’s Antarctic interests and to enshrine Tasmania’s position at the centre of Antarctic research.

The Academy’s submission, released on 28 March, warned about Australia’s declining scientific effort in Antarctica, which threatens our territorial claims in the southern region. It also argued that physical access to Antarctica was bottlenecked and that we need to replace the Australian Antarctic Division’s ageing icebreaker to provide year-round access.

The extensive media coverage of the submission spanned print, online, radio and television, and the story was picked up in around 60 separate news items and interviews, including in The Guardian, News Limited media, Fairfax media, AAP, SBS, Sky News Australia and the ABC.

Highlights included interviews with the Academy's Deputy Chair of the National Committee for Antarctic Research, Will Howard, on ABC’s PM program and ABC News 24, and an interview with Science Policy Secretary Les Field on Radio National Drive with Waleed Aly.

The submission drew attention to the need to improve researchers’ access to Antarctica. The Government included funding to enhance air transport in the 2014 Budget and later in May announced the replacement of the icebreaker Aurora Borealis to maintain sea access.

The Government’s strategic plan for Antarctica is being developed by Dr Tony Press, CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC).

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