Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Antarctic nations working together

Media release
10 August 2012

Environment Minister Tony Burke has commended Australia's effort in repatriating an unwell expeditioner from McMurdo Station, America's base in Antarctica.

On Tuesday the Australian Antarctic Division was contacted by the United States' National Science Foundation seeking advice on what assistance could be provided in transporting the expeditioner to New Zealand for medical reasons.

The Division in collaboration with its Airbus A319 operator, Skytraders, was able to provide the required assistance and set about putting plans into place.

By Wednesday a medical team had been assembled and dispatched by the Airbus to Christchurch in New Zealand from where the aircraft departed for McMurdo Station on Thursday morning.

While this is the first time a rescue of this kind has taken place at this time of year in Antarctica, weather conditions were perfect for landing and subsequent take-off for return with the patient to Christchurch on Thursday evening.

Mr Burke praised the seamless operation as one of typical cooperation between Antarctic nations.

"Working in the Antarctic is all about cooperation and emergency situations are no different," Mr Burke said.

"We collaborate with the United States and other Antarctic nations frequently such as on matters of science.

"I can only praise the Australian Antarctic Division on its swift and professional approach in pulling together a specialist medical team and working with its aircraft operators to make this rescue happen so quickly.

"The Antarctic Division kept me personally updated during these operations and their professionalism has been second to none."