A new era of Antarctic engagement was announced today by Environment Minister Greg Hunt MP, with the launch of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan.

The key components of the Action Plan include a state-of-the-art icebreaker for research and resupply, new operational funding to support an active Australian Antarctic programme, building a deep-field Antarctic science traverse capability, exploration of a year-round aviation access options, strengthening the Antarctic Treaty system, and enhancing Hobart as an Antarctic research hub and the premier Gateway to East Antarctica.

This operational advancement will ensure Australia has the necessary capability to lead science in the Southern Ocean, the Antarctic sea ice zone and around the extensive ice shelves that fringe Antarctica.

The icebreaker will deliver the science needed for the responsible management of Southern Ocean fisheries and ecosystem focused conservation, particularly of Antarctic krill — the keystone species and foundation of the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

The development of a deep-field overland science traverse capability and mobile research station infrastructure is essential for Australia’s involvement in major Antarctic research projects, including the quest for a million year-old ice core. This landmark traverse investment, combined with work towards an expanded aviation capability, will significantly improve Australia’s leadership in science and operations and offer Australia’s Antarctic programme unprecedented access to and across East Antarctica.

The Australian and Tasmanian governments will continue to work to enhance Tasmania’s status as a global Antarctic research hub and the premier Gateway to East Antarctica, including the expansion of infrastructure in Hobart to accommodate the new icebreaker.

The investment delivered through the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan will allow Australia to collaborate even more closely with other countries in Antarctica on ground-breaking scientific research, which is of national and global significance, and continue to strengthen the Antarctic Treaty system and its critical environmental protection regime.