Australia marks treaty anniversary with increased Antarctic commitment

  • Joint media release
  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
02 December 2019

Australia is marking the 60th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty System with a $58.8 million commitment to strengthen our scientific and environmental leadership in Antarctica.

The Morrison Government’s additional funding over the next two and a half years will advance the design and environmental assessments required to build Antarctica’s first ever paved aerodrome near Davis research station.

If approved, the project will dramatically enhance Australia’s scientific capacity in the region allowing year round expeditions to map climates, conduct environmental research and monitor global events such as iceberg calvings or major volcanic eruptions.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said it was pleasing to make the announcement as Ambassadors from all the Antarctic Treaty nations gathered in Canberra at a function to celebrate the Treaty anniversary.

“Since the epic feats of Sir Douglas Mawson, Australia has been an Antarctic pioneer and that spirit of scientific and environmental discovery is more important than ever,” Minister Ley said.

“Australian scientists and Antarctic teams are helping ground-breaking programs to map ice shelves, monitor climate change, study marine and migratory bird ecosystems and even test an underwater vehicle destined for Jupiter.

“We have helped track the shrinking of the hole in the ozone layer to its smallest point in almost forty years and we are planning to drill an ice core more than a million years old, which will tell us about the future extent and rate of climate change.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator Marise Payne, said that the Antarctic Treaty was an important reminder of the way nations can and are working together in the name of science and the environment.

“Australia was a keen and active participant in the negotiation of the Antarctic Treaty and one of the 12 original signatories,” Senator Payne said.

“Continued cooperation through agreements such as the Montreal Protocol has this year seen the Antarctic ozone hole reach its smallest size since 1982.

“We continue to work closely with the 54 nations in protecting the Antarctic and in sharing research.”

Australia is investing $2.8 billion in the Antarctic including:

  • $1.9 billion to build and operate the state of the art icebreaker RSV Nuyina, which will significantly enhance our scientific operations
  • $450 million to upgrade Antarctic research station network and infrastructure
  • $107 million for Antarctic research initiatives
  • $50 million for a new research station on Macquarie Island
  • $45 million to develop overland traverse capabilities

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