Icebreaker lost in Labor's Budget 'Bermuda Triangle'

Labor’s appalling management of the Budget has left no provision to replace the ageing research and supply icebreaker RSV Aurora Australis.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the Abbott Government was committed to replacing the vessel and ensuring Australia’s Antarctic program continued.

“The amazing thing is that Labor committed $1.7 million last year to a business case for the new icebreaker but left nothing to actually fund the vessel itself,” Senator Ruston said.

“The Aurora Australis has served our Antarctic program with distinction for 24 years and is nearing the end of its useful life. It will have to undergo a refurbishment program to extend its life while the Government works to replace it.

“Senate Budget Estimates today heard it was expected a new icebreaker would be available in five years but the former Labor government left no provision across the forward estimates to fund the replacement vessel.

“Once again it’s left to a Coalition Government to clean up mess left by a former Labor government.

“Australia’s Antarctic program is critical to our nation’s interests and the Abbott Government is fully committed to it. The program is also extremely important for the economy and jobs in Tasmania.”

During the election the Coalition committed significant new investment to support Tasmania’s Antarctic role, including $38 million for the extension of Hobart International Airport, $24 million to establish a new Centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research, and $25 million for the
Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centres.

Senator Ruston said the Abbott Government has commenced a 20-year strategic plan for Australia’s role in Antarctica.

“The Government plans for the future and is taking a long term approach, unlike Labor which failed to fund key projects,” she said.

Senator Ruston said the Abbott Government would work through various proposals for the new icebreaker put forward following the Request for Proposal (RFP) in January this year.

“The replacement for the Aurora Australis will primarily need to meet logistics and research requirements for the Antarctic program for the next 30 years,” she said.

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