Antarctic research funding concern
Local member for Nelson Jim Wilkinson has raised concerns over proposed funding cuts to Hobart’s marine and Antarctic research, saying the cuts have the potential to impact Tasmania’s reputation as a leader in the area. “The Federal Budget outlined cuts to the Australian Antarctic Division and the CSIRO worth a total of $216 million over four years, couple this with a proposed $30 million in annual funding cuts to the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and it puts into question the future of vital marine and Antarctic research in the state,” Mr Wilkinson said. “These cuts cast a shadow of doubt on current and future research, but also have severe implications on the employment of many in the local community.” Mr Wilkinson welcomed the federal government’s commitment to a new icebreaker to replace the ageing Aurora Australis as well as the upgrades to Hobart airport, making flight to the Antarctic easier.
“The new icebreaker, which is scheduled for operation in late 2019, will be able to operate more efficiently and effectively under the freezing conditions and is critical to ongoing marine and Antarctic research,” he said.
Mr Wilkinson said research in these areas utilised one of Tasmania’s key competitive strengths, our close proximity to the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean. “These three organisations represent a key and crucial activity for the state and yield significant flow-on economic benefits through employment, global reputation and attracting people to the state for study and research purposes,” he said. “Tasmania has maintained a strong reputation globally for its Antarctic programs and research, with investments to enhance our reputation already being made, such as the UTAS Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at Princes Wharf Shed No.2. “These investments were sound and based on the premise that government support for ongoing marine and Antarctic research would continue thanks to Tasmania’s advantageous.