ARC funding bypasses Tasmanian gateway

Media release – Michelle O’Byrne MP, Shadow Minister for TAFE, University and Skills, 21 April 2020

ARC funding bypasses Tasmanian gateway

The Federal government must explain its decision to effectively walk away from Tasmania’s position as gateway to the Antarctic.

The Shadow Minister for TAFE, University and Skills, Michelle O’Byrne, said Tasmanians deserve to know why the Government has awarded the bulk of new Antarctic research funds to a mainland university.

“The Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative in Excellence in Antarctic Science is a great opportunity to support ongoing world-leading research here in Tasmania,” Ms O’Byrne said.

But instead, the government has seen fit to award $36 million to Monash University in Victoria, with only $20 million going to UTAS.

“What a slap in the face to the lead institution in Antarctic research.

“With its long-term research focus on changes in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, there are few facilities worldwide as highly recognised in marine, oceanic and fisheries research.

“Today’s funding distribution announcement risks fragmenting our Antarctic research capabilities and undermining the work that has already been done.

“The fact that this funding replaces the Antarctic Gateway Partnership, which ended earlier this year, is even more concerning.

“Rather than using the replacement funding to strengthen Tasmania as Australia’s Antarctic Gateway, the government has left a big question mark over our scientists and the state’s role in future research.

“The work that has been done in Tasmania to date is an essential part of a collaborative process, critical to our knowledge of global climate change.

“To replace the funding model with an uncoordinated and fragmented system makes no sense and threatens Tasmania’s rightful position as the global hub of Antarctic research.

“The government must provide an explanation for this decision and recommit to Tasmania’s role at the forefront of Antarctic and Southern Ocean research, education and innovation.”

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