Opinion Piece

$800m investment a game-changer for Tasmania and Antarctica
24 Feb 2022 • Hobart Mercury, Hobart
by Jonno Duniam

Local suppliers, provisioners, mechanics, repairers and plumbers will be among those to reap a boost to business via the Antarctic program, writes Senator Jonno Duniam

TASMANIANS should be in absolutely no doubt as to which party backs Hobart as the world’s gateway to the Antarctic.

I was pleased to join the Prime Minister and Environment Minister Sussan Ley in Triabunna this week to announce a game-changing $804m investment that will set up Tasmania’s Antarctic operations for the next decade.

Tasmanian local businesses are at the heart of these investments, which was on full display when world-class Tasmanian manufacturer Elphinstone Engineering showcased its specialised traverse sleds to the Prime Minister during his visit.

Tasmanian businesses, Tasmanian ingenuity and Tasmanian workers will be at the heart of many great discoveries in the Antarctic over the next decade and beyond, thanks to our government.

It will provide yet another boon to local jobs, as extra procurement requirements will lead to massive flow-on benefits to Tasmanian industry. Local suppliers, provisioners, mechanics, repairers and plumbers will receive a sustained boost in business.

This package will deliver over $136m to allow our expeditioners to traverse even deeper into the Antarctic continent, and $109m to fund new helicopters and drones to be launched from our flagship Antarctic vessel, RSV Nuyina.

We can now look to opening up previously undiscovered territory and going deeper into Antarctica, for longer.

The package includes $17m to improve marine science capability and a new, state-of the-art krill aquarium in Hobart for everyone to enjoy, but more importantly learn about these tiny creatures that are such a crucial part of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean.

And we have allocated $14m to ensure a cleaner Antarctica by removing legacy waste in the Southern Ocean. This package also seeks to strengthen our investment in Antarctica as a critical strategic interest.

As I have said on many occasions, as one of its closest neighbours we have a special responsibility to Antarctica and ensuring that it remains free from conflict and from exploitation.

It also creates a platform to allow our world-leading Antarctic scientists to make even more ground breaking discoveries, like the recent discovery aboard RSV Nuyina of a canyon 2,200 metres beneath the Southern Ocean.

This announcement isn’t just a shot in the arm for industry. From 2026-27, over $92m will be allocated every year to support our Antarctic activities, providing a lasting economic and scientific benefit to Hobart and Tasmania.

This long-term investment will keep Hobart on top of Antarctic rival cities like Christchurch, New Zealand and Ushuaia, Argentina.

I firmly believe that we cannot afford to be complacent, and that is why I have always advocated strongly for greater investment in our Antarctic program.

This $804m announcement is the latest of a string of highprofile investments made by our government into Antarctic-based jobs in Tasmania.

This includes our $1.9bn, 30-year funding commitment into the world-leading research vessel, RSV Nuyina.

In the impressive Nuyina, you will see evidence of our commitment to Hobart and our Antarctic program.

Our government recognises that Antarctica is important to Hobart’s identity and that Tasmania has a significant role in the custodianship of Antarctica’s future.

The Antarctic package announced this week will go a long way in helping Tasmanians, Australians and the world understand more about the subcontinent.

It will enhance Tasmania’s status as an international science hub and send a strong message to the world to reinforce Australia’s sovereignty.