The Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts and the Minister for Foreign Affairs today announced that Hobart will host the 35th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) in 2012.

The ATCM is an annual meeting which provides Antarctic Treaty countries the opportunity to exchange information relating to Antarctica and formulate recommendations to Governments on ways to further the objectives of the Antarctic Treaty.

During the two-week meeting approximately 300 representatives from the 47 Antarctic Treaty nations and several organisations with an Antarctic focus will hold discussions on a range of Antarctic issues.

Mr Garrett said ‘Hobart is an obvious choice as host city for this significant meeting. Hobart is the home of the Australian Antarctic Division, is an internationally important hub of Antarctic and Southern Ocean research, and is Australia’s main gateway in support of Antarctic departures and arrivals.'

'Hosting the meeting in 2012 provides Australia with an important opportunity to showcase our commitment to protecting the Antarctic environment and conducting globally significant science.'

Mr Smith said Australia had a long, proud and historic involvement with the Antarctic Treaty, being one of the 12 original signatories in 1959 and host to the first ATCM at Parliament House in Canberra in 1961. Australia also hosted the 12th ATCM in 1983 in Canberra.

'The Antarctic Treaty is an effective and enduring Agreement between the nations active in Antarctic affairs, and the ATCM is the main international forum through which those nations make decisions on the way Antarctica is governed.'

The responsibility for hosting the ATCM traditionally proceeds through the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (those parties with decision making rights) in alphabetical order. The next meeting will be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 2010 and Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2011.