The ambitious Antarctic plan to position Australia as a key player

With sovereignty over 42% of Antarctica, Australia has a major stake in the future of the icy continent. A new report re-positions our diplomatic and bureaucratic effort going forward.

Old Antarctica hand Dr Tony Press has delivered a clear and detailed strategy to steward Australia’s considerable interests on the icy continent for the next 20 years. And from the initial signs ahead of an official government response, he’s confident it is being taken seriously.

With sovereignty over the largest slice of the big frozen pie, Australia has no time to waste in reaffirming and demonstrating its position as a key player in Antarctic affairs, according to Press. That position, he says, has been eroded by under-investment and is in risk of decline, despite our proximity, history and experience in the polar region.

As such, his report provides a set of clear steps for legislators and public servants now and into the future, as well as more symbolic suggestions, such as more official visits and the creation of two new flags to represent the Australian Antarctic Territory, and the Territory of Heard Island and MacDonald Islands.

The strategy calls for the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Antarctic Division within the Department of the Environment to jointly review the administration of the AAT and the relevant legislation. “Now’s a good time to go and have a look at our legislation to see how well it applies in the 21st Century,” Press told The Mandarin.

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