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Hobart, Australia
10 December 1997

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment

Rex Moncur, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, staff of the Australian Antarctic Division, representatives of the Media , distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I am very pleased to be with you today to officially open the Australian Antarctic Data Centre.

But before I do so I want to take this opportunity to express both my personal thanks and the appreciation of the Government for all your efforts over 1997. This has been a significant year - not only because it marks the Jubilee of ANARE, but also because we are now at the crossroads in terms of the future of the Antarctic program - a crossroad we will be negotiating as we consider the report by Professor Stoddard and his Antarctic Science Advisory Committee.

One of the achievements of 1997 was the establishment of the Australian Antarctic Data Centre. The Centre, which is available through the Antarctic Division's home page, provides ready access to a diverse and fascinating range of Antarctic information. I thank all AAD staff for that - and hope to discuss some of those issues in my meeting with staff over the next two days.

Australia is one of the first of the Antarctic Treaty members to establish a National Antarctic Data Centre. This initiative is in the spirit of international co-operation, which underpins the Treaty system.

The Antarctic Treaty, first established during Robert Menzies Government in 1959, is a Treaty in which Australia actively participates. It calls for scientific observations and results to be freely exchanged, While Australia has always been committed to this undertaking, collecting information and providing access to it has been an extremely difficult task. The Data Centre is a significant national contribution towards achieving this goal.

I understand that the Data Centre uses innovative technology to identify, gather, manage and disseminate a wide range of scientific information about the Antarctic.

This work facilitates and supports multinational and multidisciplinary research and, by increasing access to the data, significantly increases the value we can derive from the data.

Previously, researchers have experienced some difficulty in sharing data, not simply providing access to information, but identifying useable information gathered outside their particular science discipline.

Now information can be catalogued and cross-referenced by a variety of criteria in order to more easily identify data for global use.

The Data Centre is also responsible for all surveying and mapping in the Australian Antarctic and sub-Antarctic territories. The Centre produces a range of products including paper maps and digital data that is managed online by the Data Centre's Geographic Information System.

I understand that Lee Belbin will shortly be giving us a demonstration of the Centre's capabilities along with some further detail.

Before I pass to Lee, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and to thank you all for coming along today.

I take very great pleasure in officially declaring open the Australian Antarctic Data Centre.

Commonwealth of Australia