Joint Media Release: A bold vision for Australia's Antarctic Science

27 April 2020

Senator The Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women
The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment


Ground-breaking climate studies of million-year-old ice and world-leading research into Antarctic krill will be key features of Australia’s new Antarctic Science Strategic Plan that highlights the role of the region as the engine room of scientific research into global climates.

The 10-year Plan the Government is releasing today is underpinned by a $2.8 billion Morrison Government commitment.

The Plan recognises the importance of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean to Australia and the world, along with the importance of all nations working together on a continent which is protected as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.

Australia has this summer completed the most extensive inspection tour of international science bases in its history, travelling more than 10,000 kilometres across the continent.  The team inspected six stations from the Republic of Korea, Germany, China, Russia and Belarus.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, said: “Australia has an enduring commitment to Antarctica and will continue to take a leading and influential role in Antarctic international affairs”.

The Australian Antarctic Program works with 150 institutions and has collaborated with NASA, France, China and the UK on scientific research and operations. At a policy level, Australia works closely with Antarctic Treaty parties to ensure effective governance of the region.

The Antarctic Science Strategic Plan, developed by the recently established Australian Antarctic Science Council, is backed by a $106 million investment and sets out three key research areas:

  • Environmental Protection and Management
  • Ice, Ocean, Atmosphere and Earth Systems
  • Human Presence and Activities in Antarctica.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said that the knowledge gained from Antarctic research will have a direct bearing on every-day life in Australia and the world:

“The work of our Antarctic scientists is informing us about weather patterns, ocean circulation and the response of ecosystems to a changing environment.”

The Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart will continue building on Tasmania’s international standing as an Antarctic science research hub and gateway to the icy continent, coordinating with research institutions around the country to deliver world leading science.

The Federal Government’s Antarctic leadership is seeing an unprecedented $2.8 billion in funding commitments, including:

  • $1.9 billion to build and operate the new Antarctic icebreaker RSV Nuyina, significantly enhancing our scientific operations 
  • $450 million to upgrade Antarctic research stations
  • $77 million to investigate, design and undertake environmental assessments for a year-round aerodrome near Davis research station
  • $50 million for a new research station on Macquarie Island
  • $45 million to develop overland traverse capabilities to support the search for a million year ice core

The new Science plan is available at http://www.antarctica.gov.au/science/australian-antarctic-science-council.

While COVID 19 resulted in the 2020-21 Antarctic summer season being scaled back, automated science data collection will continue, while research using information gathered on the ice in previous seasons, will continue back in Australia.