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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, made a speech in the Federal Parliament to call on governments to further invest in Antarctic science and infrastructure.

“Hobart is the gateway to the Antarctic, serving as the nerve centre for international scientific research and conservation efforts in the area,” Mr Wilkie said.

“But the recent push for $25 million in savings in the AAD is galling. Reports suggesting that field research on the continent is being reviewed, and that two of our permanent bases will be under-staffed this summer are alarming to say the least. This comes at a time when Antarctic sea ice is at record lows, Antarctic temperatures are at record highs, and the increased impacts of climate change are being felt across the globe.

“The problems don’t end there, as evidenced by the terrible state of disrepair of Macquarie Wharf on account of years of State Government disinterest and underinvestment. It was understandable then that the former head of AAD recently warned that the state of the wharves was undermining Australia’s ability to meet current Antarctic research and support demand, let alone fulfill the promise of Hobart as a gateway city.

“What’s more, when the Prime Minister came to Hobart in April this year to announce $240 million funding for the AFL stadium at Macquarie Point, next to nothing was detailed about the Antarctic and science precinct, nor the upgrade of the wharf.

“Moreover, the most basic of planning would have ensured that our new $529 million ice breaker, the RSV Nuyina, could fit under the Tasman Bridge to be refuelled at Selfs Point. But of course it doesn’t, and the vessel will now have to travel the 1,200 kilometre round trip to Burnie to refuel.

“Tasmanian has the world’s best Antarctic scientists and other Antarctic experts. But sadly they’re skating on thin ice right now due to years of poor government policy and planning, and chronic government underinvestment. This must be turned around as a genuine national priority, and I call on all levels of government to make meaningful decisions and investments to enhance our Antarctic infrastructure, significantly bolster on-ice and at-sea research, and demonstrably honour our Antarctic Treaty obligations.”