The whole-of-government Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan PDF sets out Australia’s national Antarctic interests and our vision for Australia’s future engagement in Antarctica. It recognises Australia’s strong strategic and scientific interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, and sets out actions to support these over 20 years.
The Australian Antarctic Program received a major funding boost in February 2022, as part of a five year review and update of the 2016 Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan.
The 2022 update builds on the 2016 vision to uphold Australia’s role as a leader in Antarctica and as a key player in the Antarctic Treaty system (ATS).
The new funding measures include:
- $136.6 million to support Australia’s inland traverse capability, critical charting activities, mobile stations, environmental protection and other core activities
- $109 million to increase aerial and inland capability:
- $60.6 million for drone fleets and other autonomous vehicles able to map inaccessible and fragile areas of East Antarctic, establishing an ‘Antarctic eye’ with integrated sensors and cameras feeding real-time information
- $35 million for four new medium lift helicopters with a range of 550 kilometres that when launched from the Nuyina can access parts of the continent we could never reach previously
- $13.6 million for capability development to further enhance Australia’s reach inland including investigations into modern intracontinental aeroplanes
- $44.2 million in additional shipping support to enable the RSV Nuyina to focus on extended science voyages
- $17.4 million for marine science in the Southern Ocean and a new state-of-the-art krill aquarium in Hobart
- $14.3 million for environmental management including a ‘Cleaner Antarctica Strategy’ to remove legacy waste and to establish new ‘geographic information system’ technology to support environmental management
- $7.4 million for research focused on Antarctic ice sheet science to build global understanding of climate change impacts – improving our ability to support Pacific partners to monitor information about climate and oceans, including sea level rise
- $3.4 million to enhance Australia’s international engagement to support the rules and norms of the Antarctic Treaty system and promote Australia’s leadership in Antarctic affairs
The new funding package also includes $92.2 million a year from 2026-27 to further support Antarctic activities.
The funding means Australia can:
- expand its logistical capability and critical research into the Antarctic ice sheet and marine environment
- lead new research to improve our understanding of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean’s role in the global climate system
- reinforce Hobart's position as the premier gateway to East Antarctica, and create more than 100 jobs to providing an economic boost for families and businesses in Tasmania
- and continue working closely with other Antarctic nations, including through the ATS, to ensure this unique region is protected and continues to be dedicated to peace and science.
Australia’s national interests in Antarctica, articulated in the Strategy and Action Plan, are to:
- maintain Antarctica’s freedom from strategic and/or political confrontation;
- preserve our sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory, including our sovereign rights over adjacent offshore areas;
- support a strong and effective Antarctic Treaty system;
- conduct world-class scientific research consistent with national priorities;
- protect the Antarctic environment, having regard to its special qualities and effects on our region;
- be informed about and able to influence developments in a region geographically proximate to Australia; and
- foster economic opportunities arising from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, consistent with our Antarctic Treaty system obligations, including the ban on mining and oil drilling.
With the scientific and operational capability delivered through the Strategy and Action Plan, Australia will be well placed to continue to be an environmental leader in the region and address the major science challenges of the next few decades. The Strategy and Action Plan will ensure Antarctica remains ‘valued, protected and understood’.