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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

13 May 2003

$349 Million Commitment to Antarctic

A total Commonwealth commitment of $349 million to the Antarctic programme over the next four years, including $69.6 million in new funding for Antarctic shipping and logistical support for research, ensures that Australia continues to be a leader in Antarctic research and conservation.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone, said the Budget allocation continues Australia's strong commitment to the protection of Antarctica.

"The Government's Antarctic research and conservation efforts have seen major progress in improving waste management, conducting world-leading research, and a commitment to eliminating illegal fishing of the threatened Patagonian toothfish.

"The $69.6 million announced in the Budget will be used to maintain logistic support for Australia's Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations as well as maintain a marine science programme that meets Australia's international obligations to the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)."

Ships capable of operating in polar regions have been used by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) since its inception in May 1948.

"These ships have also been the backbone of Australia's Antarctic programme and continue to be used to transport people and supplies to the stations and as platforms for field and marine science."

"Since 1996 the Commonwealth has invested more than $590 million in the work of the AAD," Dr Stone said.

"This investment puts the Australian Antarctic Division in a strong position to conduct operations, including research activities."

Dr Stone said the proposed introduction of an air link between Australia and Casey station would be complementary to the need for a shipping capability.

"However, we will still need shipping to move cargo, conduct marine and oceanographic science and to support science at Heard Island and in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica."

"The RSV Aurora Australis, used by the AAD since 1991, continues to provide the main ice breaking transport capability and marine science platform to Australia's Antarctic science effort. A new shipping contract will provide greater ice-breaking capability to reduce the likelihood of delay through the ship becoming beset in ice."

Anna Hughes (Dr Stone's office) 0408 697 055

Commonwealth of Australia