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That the Australian Antarctic Division is under pressure to cut $25 million from its budget this year is extremely concerning. Australia’s Antarctic programs are vital in helping us understand the frozen continent and the impact climate change is having on our planet’s ecosystems and species. Moreover the physical presence of Australian facilities and personnel in Antarctica is essential if we are to credibly uphold our treaty obligations and maintain our claim to the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Cuts to the Australian Antarctic Division would not just hinder important scientific research, but also cause damage to our international reputation. Australia must remain a world leader in Antarctic research and engagement, and that means fully funding the Australian Antarctic Division’s programs. Every dollar that is cut from the program will have a disproportionate effect on Australia’s on-ice research in particular which is already underfunded.

Southern Tasmania is home to a large scientific community that provides leading Antarctic expertise and knowledge. Indeed Hobart’s Antarctic industry is supported by 950 jobs and worth approximately $160 million to the local economy. But many people in the industry are uncertain about their future and it’s vital that we maintain Hobart’s status as the gateway to Antarctica. So I join the calls for the Federal Government to come forward and provide some certainty to our Antarctic industry and safeguard Australia’s leading role in the region.