Science funding for Antarctica yet again put on ice
Today’s Antarctic announcement from the Morrison Government is a political ploy that provides no certainty for Tasmania’s globally significant science community and is a distraction from the real threat facing the Antarctic: climate change.
Quotes attributable to Greens Senator for lutruwita/Tasmania, Peter Whish-Wilson:
“The Government has a penchant for big announcements and cutting ribbons but not for investing in people and critical science programs.
“The Coalition has spent the last decade ignoring numerous strategic reviews and gutting Tasmania’s contribution to Australian Antarctic science.
“In this term of parliament the Government has been called out specifically for its lack of coordination and strategic approach in funding Antarctic science programs, which has created uncertainty in the Tasmanian science community and fragmented globally significant Antarctic research.
“In 2016 the Coalition tried to sack 300 scientists, many of them globally significant researchers in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic science based in Tasmania.
“All the runways, machines, boats, and buildings amount to nothing unless you invest in the people utilising them, and the scientific programs they are needed for.
“The Government’s dismal track record speaks for itself. Don't be conned by yet another big election promise from a Government facing defeat at the polls.
“I also question the validity of the $804 million announcement today as “new” funds. In 2016 $413.1 million was earmarked for investment starting from 2020‑21 - this was announced again in 2019, and again today it seems. We also know the Government’s doomed runway project spared $300 million of expenditure into the region - making part of today’s funding announcement a reappropriation of funds from a broken election promise.
“Science is the currency of the Antarctic Treaty and if Scott Morrison wants to secure Australia’s leadership role in the region he should properly fund Tasmanian scientific efforts.
“If you want to act on security and on protecting Antarctica then act on the biggest threat this region faces: climate change. Take real action to stop warming oceans and unstable ice sheets, and act on the loss of krill and biodiversity.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to Antarctica yet our Government is an international embarrassment on climate action, currently looking to approve 114 new fossil fuel projects. No amount of spin will distract from that.”