Antarctic promises still fall short
The Australian Greens have welcomed news that both Labor and the Coalition have now joined the Greens in supporting the continuation of Antarctic climate and ecosystems research but say the promises still fall short of what is required.
"In a race for votes in Tasmania, it is not surprising they are making a last minute pitch by announcing they will increase support for Antarctica," said Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne.
"Antarctica is an incredible place for scientific exploration and provides an un¬paralleled source of information on our climate and health of our oceans. The science undertaken in Antarctica can help us predict the future with much greater confidence.
"The significant gap in the Antarctic policies of both the old parties is not providing sufficient funding for the new RV Investigator to undertake up to 300 days marine research (instead of 65). The Greens have committed $66 million to for additional research days ensuring we utilising the investment in a new vessel investment the best we can.
"The Greens have also committed an additional $100 million to reverse the cuts made to the Australian Antarctic Division. The Coalition commitment falls well short of what is needed for the Division or a new agency to carry out necessary scientific work.
"While Greg Hunt's comments on no mining in Antarctica are a welcome change for the Coalition we remain sceptical of their commitment, given previous comments by Barnaby Joyce expressing the view that Australia should mine Antarctica's mineral resources before another country gets in first.
"Australia has a unique responsibility to care for Antarctica - we have one of the longest connections to the continent of any country on earth and we have 42% of the continent claimed as Australian territory. Australia also has a proud history of promoting Antarctica's conservation and management.
"Antarctic and Southern Ocean research activities are a significant component of Tasmania's economy. In 2009-10 they provided $150m directly to Tasmania, with the vast majority of this activity occurring in Hobart. Around 830 people are employed in the sector with around 650 people engaged directly in Antarctic and marine research activities.
"We have already attracted four of the lead authors of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change to Hobart. This gives us an incredible reputation globally. Building on Hobart as a science hub reinforces the branding of Tasmania as clean, green and clever.
"The Australian Greens support protecting and expanding the resourcing of Antarctic science and marine research."