On 9 August 2023, the Senate referred an inquiry into Australian Antarctic Division funding for inquiry and report by 30 November 2023.
On 28 November 2023, the Senate granted an extension of time for the report until 20 March 2024.
The committee has been referred the following terms of reference:
The current management of the funding of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), with particular reference to:
(a) revelations that the AAD is pursuing cuts worth roughly 16% of its operating budget;
(b) the direct and indirect impacts of cuts to public funding of Australia’s Antarctic activities, including on full-time, part-time and contract AAD jobs;
(c) the ramifications for Australia’s international commitments and obligations;
(d) the internal compilation of a list of at least 56 existing projects, programs and research activities that could be cut and/or terminated;
(e) the extent of the Albanese Government’s involvement in, and response to, these cost-cutting plans;
(f) the consequences of funding cuts to Australia’s Antarctic program for our country’s geopolitical and strategic international interests;
(g) complications that the proposed $25 million worth of cuts will cause for the full delivery of the Australian Antarctic Science Strategic Plan, the Australian Antarctic Strategy, the 20-year Action Plan, and the extra $804.4 million Antarctic funding package delivered by the Morrison Government in early 2022;
(h) the widespread view, including among numerous Antarctic science experts, that funding cuts of this scale and nature are catastrophic for Australia; and
(i) any other related matters.
The closing date for submissions was 4 September 2023. Submissions are now closed.