Antarctica is important to Australia. We have sovereignty over 42 per cent of the continent, including sovereign rights over adjacent offshore areas (Figure 6.1). The Government is spending an additional $2.2 billion to protect Australia’s significant Antarctic interests.
Australia is among the most influential parties to the Antarctic Treaty and is staunchly committed to the Treaty’s strength and effectiveness, and its principles of environmental protection and non-militarisation. This will preserve Antarctica as a region devoted to peace and science and reduce the potential for strategic competition to Australia’s south.
Australia has an ambitious agenda for its future in Antarctica, set out in the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan. We are building a new world-class research and resupply icebreaker vessel and new overland transport capabilities. We are improving our aviation access to the continent. We will protect the Antarctic environment, with an emphasis on maintaining the indefinite ban on mining and oil drilling, and on conserving marine resources. We will continue to deliver a world-class science program.
The Government will also fund new capabilities and infrastructure to support Tasmania’s status as the premier gateway for science and operations in East Antarctica.