Tony Abbott's so-called "government of no surprises" has been turned on its head again by revelations that savage cuts will be made to the Hobart-based Australian Antarctic Division, as part of an Environment Department budget contraction worth $100 million and 480 jobs .
"During the election campaign, Mr Abbott flew into Hobart and announced $38 million to expand the airport's capacity for Antarctic flights and another $24 million for Antarctic research," said Australian Greens Leader and Tasmanian Senator Christine Milne.
"Now the Antarctic Division workers discover that their jobs are not safe, there's been no announcement on when the promised extra money is supposed to flow, and in an additional blow, the Division has been told to find other ways to make money.
"We're seeing it in our World Heritage forests, on the Great Barrier Reef and now with our Antarctic research: this government has a slash-and-burn approach not only to the environment, but to jobs and communities as well.
"Mr Abbott is using a confected budget crisis to justify ideological cuts his government wanted to make anyway.
"At the same time, he wants to repeal revenue-raisers like the price on pollution and the mining tax.
"The Australian Academy of Science warned just last week that cuts to research are weakening Australia's claim to Antarctic territory and undermining our regional strategy," said Senator Milne.
The AAS submission to the government's 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan explained, "Australia currently makes claim to 43% of the Antarctic continent based upon its geographic proximity and history of exploration, discovery and activity in Antarctica."
"Hobart is extremely well placed to be a major global hub for Antarctic researchers, but the government is steadily eroding our own research capacity," said Senator Milne.
"This is one of Tasmania's economic growth sectors, which the government should be investing in, not slashing."
A Southern Ocean Senate Inquiry, initiated by Greens Senator for Tasmania Peter Whish-Wilson will have the capacity to look at the wider implications of any budget cuts.