Labor’s chaotic budget fails to provide for the transport needed to maintain Australia’s Antarctic program, officials have confirmed in Senate Budget Estimates hearings.
Under questioning from Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham, officials in the Australian Antarctic Division of the Environment department confirmed that:
  • They will need a new ship by 2017 to replace the ageing RSV Aurora Australis
  • Despite a Request for Proposals having been issued for a ship that will take at least two years to build, there is no funding in the budget to build it
  • Funding for an ‘air link’ to Antarctica ends in June 2014, after which the Division will have to seek funding
  • For the third consecutive year, the Division has had to negotiate a one-off allocation of $9.5 million just to maintain its operational activities, but nothing is budgeted in the forward estimates years
“How on earth does the Government expect the Australian Antarctic Division to do its job without an air link or a sea link to Antarctica?” Senator Birmingham asked today.
“This is another case of Labor’s budgeting chaos, which will only add more to the budget black hole needing to be filled should Australia want to maintain our highly valued research presence in the Antarctic.
“There is a better way than Labor’s wasteful spending and budget mismanagement that produces budget crisis after budget crisis.”