Australia is spending $529 million on a new Antarctic icebreaker

An artist’s impression of the new $529 million icebreaker replacing the Aurora Australis in 2020. Source: supplied

Malcolm Turnbull’s spending spree on national shipping continued today with news the government is buying a new $529 million icebreaker for the Hobart-based Antarctic division.

The announcement comes the day after environment minister Greg Hunt launched the Australian Antarctic Strategy and revealed that the public will choose the name of the new boat.

The boat will replace the 26-year-old Aurora Australis in 2020 with a new scientific research platform that’s 50% bigger and faster, with greater icebreaking ability and 50% increased cargo capacity for the 116 people on board. The new icebreaker is due to be delivered in 2020, with an expected lifespan of 30 years and an estimate of nearly $1.1 billion in running costs over that time.

The new icebreaker will also bring in a change of operator, with Serco offshoot DMS Maritime managing ship design build, operation and maintenance, taking over from P&O.

The government plans to hold a competition for Australian schoolchildren to name the new vessel.

Today’s announcement means the Australian government’s bill for new shipping over the next two decades now exceeds $90 billion, including 12 submarines, 9 frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels and 21 patrol boats for the Navy.

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