Australia’s environment minister just offered the public a ‘Boaty McBoatface’ moment

The Aurora Australis Image: Alison Kohout

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt launched the government’s $255 million 10-year Antarctic strategy today, which includes a new icebreaker for the trips south from Hobart.

But the fun part is that the government plans to hold a public poll to name the new boat, a move that will undoubtedly cause panic attacks among public servants family with the British poll by the Natural Environment Research Council to name the country’s new $284 million polar research vessel.

The internet poll closed a fortnight ago with 124,109 votes on the Name Our Ship campaign website in favour of the good ship Boaty McBoatface among 7000 suggestions.

The suggestion was a joke by a former BBC presenter who wants it to be called the David Attenborough, but the idea took on a life of its own and became global news.

Minister Hunt is undeterred announcing the news today, the Australian Antartic Division reports from the launch.

He has however, seen the iceberg on the horizon:

There’s no specific timeline on when all of this will happen just yet, but that hasn’t prevented the fun and games from beginning:

Business Insider is prepared to compromise and suggests keeping the Mc part with the Macpherson Robertson.

Ballarat-born Robertson was the Melbourne philanthropist who backed Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1929 Antarctic expedition when he was struggling for funds. He gave Mawson £10,000 (about $20 million in today’s terms) for his first voyage under the British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) banner.

The money came from the success of his chocolate factory, MacRobertson’s, which also gave the nation Old Gold Chocolates, the Cherry Ripe and Freddo Frog. He sent Mawson and his team south with boxes of chocolate and Mac.Robertson Land is named in his honour.

When Mawson returned on a second voyage, Robertson handed over another £6,000 and went on to be knighted in 1932 for services to the Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929-1931.

Without that philanthropy, Australia wouldn’t have the strong presence in the region it enjoys today, since the primary purpose of the BANZARE voyages was “acquisitive exploratory expedition” and Mawson went around claiming several sites in Austalia’s and the Empire’s name.

But if that suggestion fails, how about Mumble from Happy Feet?