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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Howard Government must not abandon Macquarie Island - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Howard Government must not abandon Macquarie Island - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

The Howard Government will waste an opportunity to build on more than 50 years of environmental science when it allows the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to abandon Macquarie Island.

Minister for Economic Development Lara Giddings said today that the Tasmanian Labor Government will write to Federal Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell calling on the Howard Government to provide AAD with adequate funding to maintain its current presence on Macquarie Island as well as Heard Island.

“Since 1948 Macquarie Island has been an important research centre studying elephant seals, seabirds and plant communities.

“And more recently, it has been an important site studying climate change.

“Coupled with the Howard Government’s stance on Kyoto, allowing AAD to abandon Macquarie Island will further damage Australia’s greenhouse reputation by weakening our research effort, built on more than 50 years of field studies.

“The Howard Government needs to explain how reducing our research effort on Macquarie Island and relocating resources to Heard Island will lead to better research.

Ms Giddings said any reduction in AAD resources on Macquarie Island would also hamper Tasmania’s ability to protect the Sub-Antarctic environment.

“With the logistical support of AAD, Tasmanian rangers have been successful in eradicating feral cats to protect the wildlife on Macquarie Island, Ms Giddings said.

“But if AAD withdraws from Macquarie Island, this type of environmental work will become more difficult.

“We should not be put in a position where we have to rely purely on tourists ships for logistical support when the Australian Government has a specific ship capable of providing this service.

“During last year's Federal Parliamentary inquiry into funding for Australia’s Antarctic Program I argued very strongly that any loss of logistical support would have major implications for the ongoing management and protection of Macquarie Island.

“It’s a disgrace that the Howard Government intends to wash its hands of this very important part of Tasmania, and Australia.

“I call on the Howard Government to provide the AAD with sufficient resources to support the scientific programs on both Heard and Macquarie Islands.


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