In February 2022 the whole-of-government Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan Update PDF was released setting out Australia’s national Antarctic interests and a 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.

The 2022 update builds on the 2016 vision PDF to uphold Australia’s role as a leader in Antarctica and as a key player in the Antarctic Treaty system (ATS).

Under the Strategy and Action plan, Australia would:

  • expand its logistical capability and critical research into the Antarctic ice sheet and marine environment
  • lead new research to improve our understanding of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean’s role in the global climate system
  • reinforce Hobart’s position as the premier gateway to East Antarctica, and create more than 100 jobs to providing an economic boost for families and businesses in Tasmania
  • and continue working closely with other Antarctic nations, including through the ATS, to ensure this unique region is protected and continues to be dedicated to peace and science.

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
  • 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.

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’.