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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

18 February 2000

NEW SHIP JOINS AUSTRALIA'S ANTARCTIC PROGRAM


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced a second ship had been contracted to provide better support Australia's Antarctic Program.

After a comprehensive international tendering process, Senator Hill said the MV Polar Bird, owned by Norwegian company Polar Bird, would join Australia's first ice-breaker, RSV Aurora Australis, owned by P&O Polar.

"The use of two ships will bring greater flexibility for Antarctic science, significantly enhance research capability, and give better support for Antarctic station resupply," Senator Hill said.

"The chartering of the two ships has been possible within the current budget for the Australian Antarctic Division and confirms the Government's commitment to providing greater flexibility in support of science in Antarctica" he said.

The announcement comes as the Australian Antarctic Division also investigates the suitability of an intercontinental air link between Australia and Antarctica.

"Air transport is being considered to further increase the logistical flexibility for Australia's Antarctic Program.

"The new shipping charters will provide a suitable platform for the Australian Antarctic Program while the Government considers the introduction of air transport," Senator Hill said.

"I look forward to the increased antarctic marine science research that will able to be conducted under these new arrangements, and the increased productivity of Australia's efforts in Antarctica," Senator Hill said.

Media contact:
Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Tony Press, Director, ph 0419 399 009, Tina Maher 03-6232 3513,
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7640 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia