Australia’s claim to Antarctic territory and its strategic position in the region is weakening because of a declining scientific effort, says the Australian Academy of Science.
In a submission to the federal government’s 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan, the academy says that “inactivity or reduced activity within the Australian Antarctic Territory runs the risk of eroding Australia’s long term goals, interests and our capacity to influence the long standing stability of the region”.
Antarctic research is “chronically underinvested” and Australia’s current access arrangements to the territory and the sub-Antarctic islands are “woefully inadequate”.
The number of science projects being supported by the Australian Antarctic Program has dropped from 142 in 1997 to just 62 this year.
Australia currently makes claim to 43% of the Antarctic continent based upon its geographic proximity and history of exploration, discovery and activity in Antarctica.
The submission says:
“Australia is rapidly falling behind developing nations that are taking an increasingly high interest in the Australian Antarctic Territory, particularly China, Russia and India.”
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