Chapter 5 - Committee views and recommendations

Chapter 5Committee views and recommendations

5.1Australia’s longstanding engagement in the Antarctic region is a reflection of the region’s importance to Australia and the advancement of our environmental, scientific, economic and political interests. The need to effectively and cooperatively manage Australia’s presence in Antarctica has intensified in the face of increasingly complex geopolitics, a rapidly changing environment, and significant budgetary constraints.

5.2This inquiry was therefore timely in assessing the role of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) in supporting Australia’s presence in its Antarctic Territory, through the provision and support of logistics, and the conduct of world-leading scientific programs.

5.3At the outset, the committee wishes to make clear its support for the many dedicated and engaged staff operating across the AAD, whether they are in Hobart, the mainland, or stationed in Antarctica. The evidence to this committee made clear the passion and enthusiasm that scientists and staff have for their unique role in supporting the AAD and driving positive scientific, political and logistical outcomes. This is particularly impressive given the not insignificant challenges of working in a place like Antarctica.

5.4It was likely this dedication which led so many people within AAD to come forward and detail their experiences to the committee, in the hope that serious issues would come to light and the work environment be improved for all AAD employees.

Reputational and governance risks

5.5This inquiry was initially driven by alarming reports of significant budget cuts to various programs within the AAD, and the potentially devastating impacts such cuts could have on the full delivery of the Antarctic Science Program and other long-term plans such as the 20-year Strategy and Action Plan, and the forthcoming Decadal Plan.

5.6The committee received evidence on many funding issues but focused especially on two separate funding concerns within AAD—a budget overspend of nearly $42 million in the 2022-23 financial year, and a reduction in funding through Outcome 3, between 2022-23 and 2023-24, of nearly $30 million.

2022-23 overspend

5.7Turning first to the overspend, the committee heard that this was initially forecast in the region of $20 million, and it was not until July 2023 that the extent of the overspend was identified and flagged with the Minister’s office.

5.8The committee accepts that the uncertainty with shipping and access to the RSVNuyina had a direct impact on the AAD’s budget and was a key driver of this overspend.

5.9The committee is concerned, however, that such a significant overspend did not appear to be on anyone’s radar, either leading up to that financial year as part of the forward estimates, or during the financial year in which it occurred. There was a lack of transparency around this overspend, and the committee expended considerable time on trying to determine its causes and the timeline of events.

5.10It is clear that DCCEEW was responsible for these budgetary issues, but did not have the foresight to raise or address them in an appropriate or timely way.

5.11The committee was pleased to hear that the Russell Review has led to better support for the AAD’s enabling divisions and that there are now greater levels of budgetary confidence within the Division. The committee is encouraged that there appears to have been considerable improvements in business practices.

Outcome 3 funding changes

5.12The second budgetary matter examined by the committee was the adjustments to AAD appropriations under Outcome 3, between 2022-23 and 2023-24.

5.13Again, the committee acknowledges the unique circumstances around the AAD’s budget at this time, with the uncertainty around the operations and availability of the Nuyina directly impacting on the budget.

5.14The committee considers that this was not discussed at appropriate ministerial levels in a timely way. This is especially so, given that the issues with the Nuyina coincided with the delivery of the Russell Review and initial implementation of its recommendations—which had their own budgetary implications.

5.15These budget amendments were not clearly communicated by the executive to AAD staff, and this was acknowledged by the AAD during the committee’s hearings.

5.16Poor communication led to confusion and discontent amongst AAD staff, and created funding uncertainty for many scientists who were wellprogressed with established research projects, or were in the draft stages of a new projects. It also created uncertainty for the workforce, both directly within the AAD and for those enterprises which the AAD supports.

5.17This poor communication perpetuated the idea that the AAD’s budget had been ‘cut’. Budgets were also poorly managed at branch level, and were not assessed from a whole-of-Division perspective, resulting in some science projects in draft stage not getting approval.

5.18It was the view of many scientists in evidence to this committee that the AAD could not meet its commitments to Antarctic science—even though the AAD received over $800 million in additional funding over 10 years through the Sustainable Funding Review.

5.19Despite this budget injection, there remains a lack of scientists out in the field in Antarctica and its offshore regions, with bases empty and no science voyages for nearly five years. This detracts from the AAD’s claimed focus on science as the main pillar of what it does.

Risks to the AAD and Antarctic scientific community

5.20These budgetary issues are of concern to the committee, as they highlight a lack of proper governance and oversight systems within the AAD. The AAD has at several times in recent years experienced significant budgetary risks and overspends, but this was not properly brought to the attention of the relevant Minister or other officials within the Department.

5.21It is bewildering to imagine how an overspend of over $40 million could not be identified and addressed by relevant officials until after the fact, nor raised with the relevant Minister’s office.

5.22It also appears that the changes to appropriations under Outcome 3 should have been planned for within the AAD, if these amendments were directly related to shipping and thus a foreseeable event. It does not appear there was any contingencies in place in the event the Nuyina was unavailable, and a second ship was required, nor any real consideration of how such events could impact the AAD and its science budgets in future years.

5.23Together, these issues suggest significant governance and reputational risks for the Division, and by extension, the standing of Australia in its Antarctic Territory. The impacts of funding changes on science in particular cannot be understated, given the need for long-term funding certainty to ensure research projects can be completed.

Annual accountability metrics

5.24The O’Kane Review recommended that the AAD ‘adopt as its core value that science is at the centre of all its activities’. The Clarke Review also recommended implementation of new performance measures for the AAD, as part of their accountability obligations. These recommendations were reiterated by many submitters and witnesses to this inquiry.

5.25To track the AAD’s progress on making science its priority, the committee suggests that better metrics are needed, for accountability, transparency, and measuring the ongoing commitment of the AAD to refocusing on science. While the AAD has several reporting metrics at the moment, this are limited and do not provide a broad enough scope to properly consider the work of the AAD and how it is tracking.

5.26The committee therefore recommends the AAD develop and implement annual accountability metrics which support science being its number one priority. These metrics should include, for example, the annual proportion of science funding as a percentage of the AAD’s operational budget—a metric that has been applied by various reviews into the AAD to show that Antarctic science is not getting the funding and prioritisation it needs. Other metrics may include the number of scientists engaged by the AAD each year on an ongoing basis, how many are deployed in Antarctica, and how the RSV Nuyina is being utilised for scientific research.

5.27Before implementing these metrics, the proposed accountability measurements should be canvassed publicly through release of a discussion paper, indicating annual performance targets (for example, that science funding be increased yearonyear by a set percentage). The AAD should, as part of its annual reporting, provide actual outcomes on performance.

Recommendation 1

5.28The committee recommends the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) immediately develop and publish annual accountability metrics and performance targets, which better support and promote the role of Antarctic science. Such metrics should include (but not be limited to):

details of science funding as a percentage of the operational budget of the AAD;

the proportion of AAD staff engaged in a science role as a percentage of all AAD staff, with a breakdown of ongoing, nonongoing and contractor positions;

the development and utilisation of science infrastructure in Antarctica, including science beds on bases;

the number of science projects supported, not supported or otherwise delayed; and

the use of the RSV Nuyina in Antarctic research and how the RSV Nuyina will be utilised in future years.

5.29The committee recommends the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water release a discussion paper with proposed accountability metrics and annual performance targets, with details on how these metrics will be improved and increased over time.

Governance improvements

5.30Despite the governance issues across DCCEEW and the AAD, it is clear to the committee that there has been significant change for the better in the leadership at AAD. The appointment of MsCampbell and other key personnel appears to have the AAD heading in a better direction.

5.31For example, the committee is pleased to hear that there have been improvements to governance since this inquiry commenced, including monthby-month tracking of the Division’s budget. The newly established bodies such as the Program Management Board (PMB) are tasked with identifying and managing reputational risks and the PMB was informed of the overspend and will receive regular budget reporting.

5.32The committee also heard that while it was still a significant challenge for the AAD, long-term integrated planning was progressing and the AAD was taking a far more collective approach to its decision-making. This involved more executive and whole-of-Division oversight, explicit decision-making on how resources are used in Antarctica, and priority setting and clarity of expectations from the Head of Division.[1]

5.33While the committee was encouraged to hear about this progress, the Clarke Review of 2017 made significant findings and recommendations about the implementation of an integrated planning model at the AAD—and based on the evidence before the committee, there is still some way to go here. The committee recommends the AAD prioritise the development and implementation of an integrated planning model, as this will be essential in ensuring the effective governance and operation of the Decadal Plan (discussed below).

5.34Further, the various reviews into the operations of the AAD—including the Clarke and O’Kane reviews—have focused, quite rightly, on how the AAD needs to change in order to fund and support Antarctic science and make it the centre of the AAD’s work.

Operations and logistics

5.35Now that work is underway to make science the focus of the AAD, the time is right for an independent review of the operations and logistics arrangements at AAD, and how these branches of the AAD interact with and support the endeavours of the Science Branch. Throughout the inquiry, the committee heard that too much funding and attention has been placed on logistics and operations across the Division, to the detriment of Antarctic science—the operations branch was at one point called a ‘self-serving empire’.[2]

5.36The committee therefore recommends an independent review be conducted and completed as soon as possible into logistics and operations, with a view to formally developing an integrated planning model at the AAD.

5.37In addition to the Clarke and O’Kane reviews, DCCEEW is still working to fully implement the recommendations of the Russell Review, by June 2024—and the committee acknowledges significant work has already progressed on this and commends the AAD for its clear and upfront response to the Review’s findings. The committee encourages the government to make sure all recommendations of the Russell Review are implemented, and calls for a full government response to the Russell Review to be tabled in the Senate no later than 30 June 2024.

5.38All of these recommendations, taken together, will go a long way to ensuring the AAD remains a high-performing and fit-for-purpose scientific organisation.

Recommendation 2

5.39The committee recommends the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) commission an independent review of the management, culture and performance of the AAD’s operations and logistics branches. The review should consider how these sections of the AAD interact with and support the endeavours of the Science Branch. The review should be completed as soon as possible, to contribute to the development and implementation of an integrated planning model at the AAD.

Recommendation 3

5.40The committee recommends that the Australian Antarctic Division prioritise the development and implementation of an integrated planning model, as recommended by the Australian Antarctic Science Program Governance Review of December 2017 (the ‘Clarke Review’).

Recommendation 4

5.41The committee recommends the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water implement all recommendations of the Independent Review of Workplace Culture and Change at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) and table in the Senate a full government response to the Independent Review, no later than 30 June 2024.

Decadal Plan

5.42It is well past time that the Decadal Plan be endorsed by Government and put into action. The Decadal Plan was to be the pillar of the Antarctic Science Program in the years ahead. It was therefore consistently disappointing to hear that the Plan has stalled and has not yet progressed to Ministerial and Government sign-off.

5.43It is hard to understand how decisions can be made in the present about science projects with long lead-in times and specific funding requirements, without any visibility of the Decadal Plan and how it might support such projects in the years ahead. This creates significant uncertainty for scientists, and impacts on logistics.

5.44The committee notes the development of the six draft science outcome statements, which were established through extensive consultation with Antarctic scientists and other key stakeholders, and have been provided to the Minister. The committee considers there to be significant benefit in the draft outcomes, and the draft Decadal Plan, being made public so there is accountability and transparency around its development and ongoing delivery.

5.45Release of the draft Plan would allow for ongoing consultation with the scientific community, to ensure the Plan reflects their input and anticipated outcomes over the decade ahead. The scientific community needs information on how the Decadal Plan will work so they can do their jobs.

5.46In addition, the committee appreciates that the AAD’s Chief Scientist will need to be a key driver of the Decadal Plan, and it therefore makes sense for the new Chief Scientist to be appointed before the draft Plan is progressed to the Minister. However, the committee does not wish to see this appointment process further delay what has already been an unnecessarily long process in developing the Plan. The committee therefore encourages the AAD to provide the Minister with the finalised Decadal Plan within three months of the appointment of the new AAD Chief Scientist, for government endorsement.

Recommendation 5

5.47The committee recommends that the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water release the draft Decadal Plan, including the six draft science outcome statements, as soon as possible. A brief public consultation period should follow the release of the draft Decadal Plan, to ensure it reflects the views of the Antarctic scientific community.

Recommendation 6

5.48The committee recommends that the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water finalise the Decadal Plan and provide it to the Minister for the Environment and Water within three months of appointment of a new Chief Scientist to the Australian Antarctic Division, or no later than 31 October 2024, whichever is earlier.

5.49The committee recommends that the Decadal Plan be endorsed by the Australian Government and fully funded as part of the 2025-26 Budget. The Decadal Plan should be made public as soon as finalised, and no later than the end of 2024.

Staffing and recruitment

5.50Throughout the inquiry the committee was advised that underresourcing within the AAD was having a direct and detrimental impact on staff, and on science capabilities. It was acknowledged several times during the inquiry that the unique working environment of Antarctica and the challenges that presents are also impacting on AAD recruitment.

5.51The committee heard that due to the 2022-23 budgetary changes, numerous recruitment processes were halted. AAD confirmed that while the Sustainable Funding Review announcements included 40additional positions, these positions had not eventuated; 20 had been advertised, from which four positions had been filled with the remainder on hold ‘pending resolution of the bigger budget picture’.[3]

5.52Further, a number of staff are engaged by the AAD on a non-going basis. The committee appreciates that the seasonal nature of the work is a direct cause of this, but non-ongoing employment does not provide certainty to staff or allow for the development of long-term scientific research.

5.53Implementation of the Decadal Plan and a refocusing on science will necessitate the AAD bolstering its Science Branch staffing levels. Increasing and promoting the recruitment of scientists to the AAD would also be a sign of good faith that science is being re-prioritised within the Division, with commensurate benefits to the morale of the Antarctic scientific community.

Recommendation 7

5.54The committee recommends the Australian Antarctic Division immediately readvertise the 20 positions which were originally announced in 2022-23, and progress the recruitment for ongoing staff wherever possible, and for staffing within the Science Branch.

The AAD funding model

5.55There were some suggestions that funding all AAD operations from a single budgetary allocation had led to a lack of clarity about what the AAD stands for, and what it is hoping to achieve.

5.56It also seems to the committee that there is a chicken-and-egg situation occurring, where the AAD is trying to implement and commit to long-term plans and strategies—primarily the Decadal Plan—without the guarantee and support of a 10-year funding package. It may be the government is waiting to see the final Decadal Plan before endorsing a budget allocation, but this may result in a stalemate of sorts.

5.57The committee received extensive evidence about the need to reform the AAD’s funding model. Throughout the inquiry, it was made very clear that there is a continued tension between funding of Antarctic operations and logistics and of the science program, from the same budget.

5.58There was also a perception that the logistics and operations branch of the AAD had a disproportionate say in determining what science projects were supported or not.

Quarantining the science budget

5.59Inquiry participants called for the quarantining of the AAD science budget, to provide certainty to Antarctic scientists and their projects and to ensure the AAD can fulfil its primary purpose. There were also calls for the establishment of a new agency or research institute, to focus solely on Antarctic science programs.

5.60On this, the committee is persuaded by the evidence that now is not the right time to establish an entirely separate Antarctic science agency. Such an agency would need considerable lead-in time and great expenditure to establish and would therefore be high-risk. Any new agency would also need to implement its own logistics and operations support—structures which the AAD already has in place. A new agency would not help progress science projects which are ready to go now, and the large amount of money required for a new agency would be better allocated to support current scientific endeavours.

5.61The committee does, however, see great benefit in a transparent, stand-alone, Antarctic science appropriation within the AAD budget.

A new funding model

5.62A significant review of the AAD’s funding model was completed in 2023, making important recommendations for change. The Australian Antarctic Science Council (AASC) called for funding certainty by making funding ongoing, or by tying additional funding to specific program outcomes.

5.63The AASC further recommended the current annual appropriation for Antarctic science be consolidated into DCCEEW, with an explicit reference in the budget papers and with management of the funds under the purview of the Chief Scientist.

5.64The committee supports such an approach because it would provide muchneeded transparency around the Antarctic budget and provide better oversight of science expenditure and governance. As the AASC noted, it would help to identify budgetary fluctuations over the years.

5.65It would also go some way to providing certainly to scientists about the budgetary environment over the forward estimates, especially noting a science budget should be separate to logistics and operational supports.

5.66It does not seem impossible to the committee that a separate, explicit line item could be included in future budgets, identifying a specific Antarctic science appropriation. A science program in the budget could be accompanied by metrics which would enable the measurement and reporting on scientific outputs and programs.

Recommendation 8

5.67The committee recommends that the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, through endorsement of the Expenditure Review Committee, include in all future Budgets a line item specifically identifying the Antarctic science appropriation for each Budget year and across the forward estimates.

Ongong funding for science programs

5.68Scientific research takes time, and money. The evidence to the committee highlighted the risks of short-term, non-ongoing funding to the planning and running of Antarctic science projects.

5.69There are several Antarctic science and research projects which are now facing a funding cliff. This again highlights the importance of long-term planning and funding certainty and the key role that the Decadal Plan will play. It may be that these funding cliffs would not be happening now, if there was more urgent progress on the Plan and governance reform across AAD.

5.70The committee recommends that, as a matter of urgency the funding provided by the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Special Research Initiative (SRI) in Excellence in Antarctic Science be continued, so that the universities which were the recipients of that funding can continue their work with confidence. The University of Tasmania, for example, is planning work up to 2030—but with funding to cease in 2025.

5.71In addition, the committee sees benefit in the ARC’s funding for these projects being immediately transferred to DCCEEW, as a dedicated budget line, for management and allocation within the Department and in consultation directly with the AAD—as occurred with the AAPP. This would align Antarctic science funding directly with the Antarctic scientists who need it.

Recommendation 9

5.72The committee recommends the Australian Government, as a matter of urgency, provide ongoing annual funding to the Special Research Initiative in Excellence in Antarctic Science, to be indexed annually and incorporated into the Decadal Plan on an ongoing basis.

Recommendation 10

5.73The committee recommends the Australian Government immediately transfer Australian Research Council funding for Antarctic science, including the Special Research Initiative in Excellence in Antarctic Science, to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

The role of DFAT

5.74The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) plays a key role in Australia’s strategic presence in Antarctica, including promoting the aims of the Antarctic Treaty System and ensuring ongoing geopolitical ‘stability and durability’. Throughout the inquiry, DFAT has put itself forward as a wholeofgovernment ‘champion’ of Antarctic affairs—with a dedicated Antarctic section within DFAT established in late 2022.

5.75Earlier this year, however, the committee was told the Antarctic section within DFAT had only four staff—including some parttime. In addition, despite the scientific and geopolitical importance of Antarctica, there was evidence that internationally important and Australia-based scientific projects were having to reach out to overseas partners for funding and support.

5.76The committee believes that DFAT establishing a scientific office is a good first step to ensure Australia’s interests are supported in the region but is concerned the staffing levels of that office and the focus of DFAT on Antarctica needs bolstering to ensure it really is leading and co-ordinating with Australian government departments as an ‘Antarctic champion’.

Recommendation 11

5.77The committee recommends the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade review the current arrangements for its dedicated Antarctic office, so that it better coordinates and promotes Australia’s wholeofgovernment scientific, strategic and geopolitical engagement with Antarctica. The review should consider whether the DFAT Antarctic office is adequately resourced and supported by an appropriate number of fulltime staff.

Role of the Australian Antarctic Science Council

5.78The AASC is an advisory body for which the terms of reference are now five years old. Since the AASC was established, there have been several important reviews into the operations of the AAD and the need to better focus on, and properly fund, Antarctic science, as well changes to the overall governance of Australia’s engagement with the Antarctic.

5.79In its 2023 funding model review, the AASC suggested it should take on more than just an advisory role and be empowered to approve the allocation of funds between universities and the AAD Science Branch.

5.80With the recent appointment of Dr Nicholas Gales as Chair of the AASC, it is timely to review the terms of reference for the Council. In doing so, DCCEEW should consider whether its membership structure remains appropriate, the management of any conflicts of interest, and whether the AASC could take on more responsibility and an active role in the allocation of Antarctic science funding.

Recommendation 12

5.81The committee recommends that the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water review the terms of reference for the Australian Antarctic Science Council (AASC). The review should be broad but include consideration of at least the following matters:

the membership of the AASC;

implementing a process for declaring and managing conflicts of interest; and

the extent to which the AASC should have responsibility for the allocation of Antarctic science funding.

RSV Nuyina

5.82The committee offers its support and congratulations to all those who worked on the build of the Nuyina. The Nuyina is a fantastic contribution to Australia’s presence and scientific capability in Antarctica, and the vessel has allowed for significant scientific work to be completed over its eight voyages to date.

5.83While it was not the primary role of the committee to examine in detail the commissioning, rollout and use of the RSV Nuyina, the committee received extensive evidence on this issue. Much like the budgetary issues discussed earlier in this chapter, the issues around the Nuyina highlighted the ongoing impact of governance and oversight issues with the AAD and the impact of AAD decisionmaking on the Antarctic science program—especially in the long term.

5.84Despite launching in 2021, the Nuyina has suffered from mechanical problems, missing the entire 2022-23 Antarctic season. This meant the permanent scientific features of the ship, including dedicated laboratories, a moon pool and modern scientific equipment like hull and keep acoustic instruments, could not be used and long-planned science projects could not be progressed.

Two-ship model

5.85It was made clear to the committee that relying on the Nuyinafor the majority of Australia’s Antarctic engagement is not a sustainable model and it is to the detriment of both science and logistics that both must depend on the one ship. This is especially true for those stationed in Antarctica who experience issues with resupplies of essential items.

5.86Submitters and witnesses called for a secondary vessel which could be deployed solely for logistics and resupply—an approach taken in other comparable countries, and which would considerably increase flexibility for Australia’s various Antarctic programs.

5.87The committee is similarly of the view that introducing a second ship would be of great benefit—and the committee notes that the AAD told the committee that Macquarie Island does not require an icebreaker or ice rated ship. It may therefore be of benefit for further investigation to take place on whether a second ship should be permanently acquired for use by the AAD in logistics—rather than going to a request for tender every time an additional ship is needed for non-science activities.

5.88The committee therefore recommends the DCCEEW complete a business case to government as soon as possible, on the acquisition of a second vessel.

Recommendation 13

5.89The committee recommends the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water develop as a matter of priority a business case for the acquisition of a second vessel to support Australia’s presence in Antarctica. Such a vessel should be deployed primarily for logistics, to allow the RSVNuyina to be deployed with a greater focus and frequency on science projects.

Additional shipping days

5.90The RSV Nuyina, currently under contract to Serco, is budgeted to have 200shipping days, but there is no specific budget allocation for shipping.

5.91The committee heard that for the number of shipping days to increase, it would require a new measure in the budget, to then be absorbed into Outcome 3 appropriations across the forward estimates. The committee received no pushback from AAD when it suggested that the RSV Nuyina could complete more than 200 shipping days—and Mr Sullivan recognised that the ship could travel south a lot earlier in the season than anticipated.

5.92There would be extensive benefits to extra shipping days, as it would provide more flexibility and certainty for dedicated science voyages, and a ready solution to supporting Antarctic science right now—rather than relying on a second ship which may or may not eventuate in the future. Having said that, the benefits of more shipping days would be greater, if combined with a twoship model.

5.93The committee therefore recommends that funding be allocated to allow for 250to 300 shipping days for the RSV Nuyina. Appropriations should also be made to ensure there were sufficient contingencies for hiring or leasing a second vessel as required.

Recommendation 14

5.94The committee recommends the Australian Government increase funding to Antarctic shipping to enable the RSV Nuyina to ship 250-300 days per year, and to include contingency funding for the hiring or leasing of a second ship as needed.

Berthing the RSV Nuyina

5.95During the inquiry, the committee received several updates on progress of the Macquarie Wharf Redevelopment. It was made clear to the committee that Macquarie Wharf 6 especially needs redevelopment if it is to properly support the RSVNuyina in loading, unloading and refuelling, and in providing longterm certainty that the vessel has a safe and accessible berthing location in Hobart.

5.96However, there does not appear to be any progress on the project, and the redevelopment will form part of the broader Macquarie Point revitalisation venture. But this will take time, and the Wharf 6 redevelopment proposals have already been discussed for at least three years. The committee therefore recommends the AAD work with TasPorts and the Tasmanian Government to swiftly resolve outstanding matters and find a way forward as soon as practicable, and that funding be made available to progress the Wharf 6 project.

Recommendation 15

5.97The committee recommends that the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the Australian Antarctic Division work to swiftly resolve any outstanding matters related to the redevelopment of Wharf 6 at Macquarie Point, including issues of funding and the contract provisions with TasPorts, in a fair and appropriate manner. The committee further recommends that the AAD publicly provide a report on progress no later than 30 June 2025.

ANAO audit

5.98The committee notes that the ANAO has listed a potential audit into DCCEEW’s management of Australia’s Antarctic presence, as part of its 202324 audit program.

5.99As has been shown throughout this report, although there have been some improvements to governance and leadership, there remains concern over Australia’s Antarctic engagement, funding and approach to science.

5.100The committee further suggests that the ANAO could explore the feasibility of the AAD transitioning to a new, standalone statutory Commonwealth agency.

5.101The committee is encouraged to hear that initial discussions have commenced between the ANAO and the AAD and hopes that the audit eventuates as forecast, later this year. The committee lends its support to the audit taking place.

Recommendation 16

5.102The committee recommends that the Australian National Audit Office undertake its potential 2023-24 audit into the effectiveness of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s management of Australia’s Antarctic presence, including arrangements to support Australia fulfilling its environmental responsibilities.

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson


Greens Senator for Tasmania


[1]Ms Emma Campbell, Australian Antarctic Division, Committee Hansard, 24 April 2024, p. 24.

[2]Dr Simon Wright and Dr Andrew Davidson, Submission 9, [p. 8].

[3]Ms Emma Campbell, Australian Antarctic Division, Committee Hansard, 5 October 2023, p. 23.