China's commitment to using Australia as an Antarctic gateway is welcome news for Tasmanians working in the science, research and shipping sectors, Greens senators said today.
"The Antarctic and Southern Ocean research sector is worth millions to the Tasmanian economy. China's commitment will help ensure it continues to play a strong role for years to come," Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne said.
"What really sets us apart is the quality of research from the University of Tasmania and the national research institutions based here. Commitments by China and Australia to joint research and academic exchanges will be a welcome boost.
"This is a hugely beneficial agreement for Tasmania that the Greens have long campaigned for, so now the task is for the federal government to maintain funding for research.
"The Abbott government has slashed CSIRO and Antarctic Division funding in this year's budget and has also set its sights on university funding.
"The China MOU shows we should be investing in our science sectors, not slashing them. It's one of the great strengths of the new Tasmania that facilitates tourism and an increase in international students, both of which are welcome.
"I particularly note the MOU outlines a continued commitment to the Antarctic treaty system, which enables the designation of Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science. It is essential that the future vision for Antarctica is for science and peace, not for resource extraction. I welcome the Chinese and Australian commitment to that end."
Australian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said it was important to make the most of the new cooperation by reinvesting the funds cut from science budgets this year.
"It's vital that government acts on all the recent Senate inquiry recommendations, including an immediate commitment to continue funding for Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific research.
"We also want to see additional funding to get Australia's $124 million RV Investigator marine research vessel working at its optimum 300 days per year at sea," Senator Whish-Wilson said.