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Media Release
Senator the Hon. Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

Federal Budget 1999-2000

MAINTAINING AUSTRALIA'S LEAD IN ANTARCTIC RESEARCH


The Howard Government has delivered on its pre-election commitment to maintain Australia's leading role in Antarctic research and conservation.

$95.3 million has been allocated for the Commonwealth's Antarctic programme in 1999-2000, which will fund continuing research and conservation efforts as well as important new transport arrangements.

"Continuing high quality marine research is vital if Australia is to maintain its efforts to secure international agreement on conservation measures and to ensure harvesting of the region's resources occurs in a sustainable manner," Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill said.

"Better knowledge of the Southern Ocean area, including the sea-ice zone, is also required to develop our understanding of the important role Antarctica plays in the global climate and weather systems."

Senator Hill said a further funding will be set aside in 2000-01 to enable the Australian Antarctic Division to put in place new shipping arrangements when the current charter of the icebreaker, Aurora Australis, expires next year.

The shipping tender process will examine multi-ship options, in keeping with the Government's election commitment to examine more flexible and efficient operational support for the Antarctic programme.

A scoping study looking at air transport options between Australia and Antarctica is also due to be completed at the end of July, in line with the Government's pre-election commitment.

Senator Hill said the Government would also continue its vigilance and efforts to protect the Australian fishing zone around Heard Island from illegal fishing.

Media contact: Rod Bruem    02 62777640    0411 128 582

Commonwealth of Australia