Australia’s presence in Antarctica has been bolstered by extra funding in this year’s Budget to broaden Antarctic climate change research and extend the working life of the research and resupply ship, Aurora Australis.

Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research Minister Craig Emerson and Environment Minister Tony Burke today stepped up the Government’s commitment to maintaining Australia’s position as a world leader in Antarctic protection and research.

Dr Emerson said Hobart’s Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) would receive $25 million to continue its world-leading research into Antarctic climate science and the uncertainties that currently limit the global response to climate change.

The funding means the range of work undertaken by the CRC, already Australia’s largest centre of Antarctic and Southern Ocean climate change research, will continue to include climate change impacts in Australia and the Pacific.

“Australia is a leading Antarctic nation and the Gillard Government is committed to continuing that presence,” Dr Emerson said.

“Our Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC has an international reputation as a leader in climate change science. The funding in this year’s Budget means its research will address key scientific questions, including how Antarctica drives global climate, and how the pace and nature of change will affect the wellbeing and economic interests of Australians.”

The Government funding for the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC will be provided over five years from 1 July 2014.

Mr Burke said that this year’s Budget would also provide $9.5 million to ensure Australia’s continued contribution to broader research and Antarctic operations staged from Tasmania, including the running of four fully-operational Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations.

“Australia has a proud legacy in Antarctica and we are devoting the resources to ensure we remain a steward of environmental research,” Minister Burke said.

“The icebreaker Aurora Australis plays an essential role in resupplying our Antarctic stations and supporting critical Antarctic and Southern Ocean research, and has done since 1989. Now is the time to look to future options. A $7.9 million allocation in this year’s Budget means we can start to explore options for a new icebreaker to replace Aurora Australis, as well as perform the work necessary to ensure the Aurora Australis remains available over the next few years.”

The 2012–13 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook allocated $1.7 million for the development of a detailed business case for a new Antarctic shipping capability, including essential associated infrastructure and support.