Neil Hamilton, The Interpreter
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Australia's investment in Antarctica has fallen dramatically since 2012. Cutting funding to Australia's increasingly modest Antarctic science program ignores our strategic interests. It damages our territorial claims, allows others to breach the ATS [Antarctic Treaty System], and risks creating a slowly escalating crisis to our south. The small crumbs fed to keep the Australian Antarctic Division on life support are unlikely to be sufficient to counter this damage.
Governance of international spaces such as the Antarctic (and in some respects the Arctic) is a nuanced game of public diplomacy supported by science and logistical cooperation between nations. Science is, as Tony Press wrote, the currency of legitimacy in Antarctica. It restricts international conflicts to mid-level bureaucratic spats that can be resolved without political damage.
However, continued political influence relies on a basic level of investment and commitment in support of the ATS. It's not about budget repair or what we think is domestically adequate: failure to live up to international expectations and to 'play the Antarctic game' in a manner than supports Australia's position directly undermines our strategic interests. ...