During the week, Casey was fortunate to host a visiting group of VIPs, including our federal Minister the Hon Tony Burke, and key departmental staff. The VIP group flew in on the first A319 flight for the season to Wilkins Aerodrome. Several group members, including Labor, Liberal, National and Greens Senators and the Hon Julie Collins (Federal Member for Franklin) — Members of the Senate Standing Committee on the Environment and Communications and the Joint Standing Committee on the National External Territories - had an opportunity to see the aerodrome operations and experience what the Antarctic environment is like for those of us working and living here.
Minister Burke and a smaller group continued to station and spent two days getting to grips with station life and the science and support activities undertaken by the Australian Antarctic program at Casey. The visit provided an excellent opportunity for expeditioners to speak with senior departmental leaders, as well as the Minister.
On the final evening of the visit, the Minister made a short impromptu speech after dinner outlining his appreciation of the work being done in Antarctica and its critical role in national and international environmental management, science and policy development. His words were very well received.