Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan

A hagglund on the sea ice in the darkness of winter.
Hägglunds on the fast ice near Mawson station. (Photo: Justin Chambers)

Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan [PDF] ISBN: 978-1876934354

The whole-of-Government Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan (Strategy and Action Plan) sets out Australia’s national Antarctic interests and our vision for Australia’s future engagement in Antarctica. It recognises Australia’s strong strategic and scientific interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, and sets out actions to support these over 20 years.

Australia’s national interests in Antarctica, articulated in the Strategy and Action Plan, are to:

  • maintain Antarctica’s freedom from strategic and/or political confrontation;
  • preserve our sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory, including our sovereign rights over adjacent offshore areas;
  • support a strong and effective Antarctic Treaty system;
  • conduct world-class scientific research consistent with national priorities;
  • protect the Antarctic environment, having regard to its special qualities and effects on our region;
  • be informed about and able to influence developments in a region geographically proximate to Australia; and
  • foster economic opportunities arising from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, consistent with our Antarctic Treaty system obligations, including the ban on mining and oil drilling.

The Strategy and Action Plan reflects Australia's commitment to build our role as a leader in Antarctica. It is supported by a $2.2 billion package of funding provided in the 2016-17 Budget. Funding was also provided in the 2018-19 Budget of $13 million a year to support a world-class Antarctic science program.

Key initiatives being progressed in line with the Strategy and Action Plan include:

  • $1.9 billion to construct the new icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, which will provide a significant new capability to the Antarctic Program, as a science research platform and resupply vessel.
  • $45 million to re-establish Australia’s overland traverse capability including a campaign to search and drill for a million year ice core.
  • An additional $48.9 million for the construction of a new, more efficient, year round research station on Macquarie Island.
  • Supporting the private sector to establish the Antarctic Science Foundation.
  • Establishing on-going Department of Defence support to the Australian Antarctic Program, including through a regular program of flights to Antarctica using the heavy-lift C-17A aircraft.

Further, the Government announced in May 2018 its intentions to construct a paved runway near Davis research station to enable year round aviation access to Antarctica, subject to environmental approvals. Work is progressing on the detailed business case for this proposal.

With the scientific and operational capability delivered through the Strategy and Action Plan, Australia will be well placed to continue to be an environmental leader in the region and address the major science challenges of the next few decades. The Strategy and Action Plan will ensure Antarctica remains ‘valued, protected and understood’.

You can also read the 2014 Press Report – Dr Tony Press’ report that provided a blueprint for Australia’s future engagement in Antarctica and options to expand Tasmania’s role as a leading Antarctic science and logistics hub. The Strategy and Action Plan builds on the Press Report.