Australia's Antarctic legacy secures future

AUSTRALIA'S century-long association with its frozen neighbour is set to continue with the release of a plan to ensure the nation remains a world leader in Antarctica.

The Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan, which was released on Friday, provides a blueprint for Australia's future in the region.

The plan contained recommendations on a range of key issues including protecting Australia's national interests in Antarctica, supporting and leading national and international science and establishing Tasmania as an Antarctic gateway.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Australia had a long and proud history in Antarctica and that role must continue.

"The report gives a frank assessment of the current situation and makes a number of recommendations as to how Australia can remain a leader in Antarctica, a position we have maintained for more than 100 years," he said.

Mr Hunt said the report recommended the acquisition of a new icebreaker, due in 2019, to replace the aging Aurora Australis.

"This investment is critical for our long-term strategic interest in Antarctica remaining a place of peace and science, and it is fundamental to our ability to carry out research and work co-operatively with other Antarctic nations," he said.

"We are confident that we can build on Australia's proud history of Antarctic leadership and set us on a positive path for the next 20 years of Australian Antarctic endeavour."

Australia, based on geographic proximity, claims 43% of the ice continent, but maintaining that depends on demonstrating a substantial scientific program under the Antarctic Treaty.


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