Tasmanian Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Greens' spokesperson for science, research and innovation, Senator Janet Rice comment on today’s ARC announcement of $56m in funding for Antarctic science.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, "Whilst any new funding for Antarctic, Southern Ocean and climate science is welcome, today’s ARC funding announcement has dudded Tasmania as Australia’s Antarctic gateway, and presents significant uncertainties for Tasmanian scientists, their communities and our economy going forward.
"The feedback from UTAS Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black is that today’s announcement fragments rather than strengthens Australia’s Antarctic science capability and undermines the existing AASSP (Australian Antarctic Southern Ocean Science Program).
"This program is critical to monitoring and tackling our climate emergency and this announcement presents significant cause for concern.
"Antarctic and Southern Ocean climate science programs are long-term and collaborative in nature, so any funding approach that results in uncertainty risks undermining the very work that is currently being funded.
"This has been pointed out to the Government in recent times by both the Press and Clarke Reviews which looked into how continuity could be maintained and best funded.
"It would seem that the conclusions of both reviews have been either ignored or overlooked by the ARC.
"For decades, Tasmania has been at the centre of Antarctic and Southern Ocean science.
"As a 'gateway,’ it forms a critical part of our state's identity and international reputation.
"This is now all at risk unless the Government can increase overall funding and fix this critical problem.
"The Australian Government must immediately review Antarctic and Southern Ocean science funding - this includes taking into account the findings of recent independent reviews, and providing certainty and support for an integrated approach that restores Tasmania as the hub of this nation's Southern Ocean, Antarctic and climate research efforts.
Senator Janet Rice, Greens spokesperson for science, research and innovation, said, “Now is absolutely not the time to be risking Australia’s climate, oceans and Antarctic science capabilities, as the climate crisis continues to impact our oceans drastically.
“All our research institutions need certainty and continuity of funding, not the prospect of funding cliffs down the track.
“The Morrison government should commit to boosting funding for science and research, which is especially critical as we respond to multiple overlapping crises.
"More than ever we need our science and research capacity to be secure and supported.”
Senator Whish-Wilson initiated the nation's first Senate inquiry into Southern Ocean science in 2015. He also chaired the select committee into CSIRO climate science job cuts in 2016 with concerns they would have devastated Tasmania’s climate science community and capability.