THE TASMANIAN government is anticipating growth in the state’s Antarctic sector through developments such as a proposed Antarctic and Science Precinct on the Hobart waterfront.
A new report from the Department of State Growth suggests the Antarctic and Southern Ocean sector contributes more than $183 million each year to the Tasmanian economy.
The report, The Contribution of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Sector to the Tasmanian Economy 2021-22 was released this week on 8 November.
In the two years since the last review into the value of the sector (covering 2019-20), economic contributions from Antarctic-related operations in Tasmania have increased by almost $24 million per year.
The Department of State Growth said the proposed Hobart precinct has the potential to enhance collaboration in science and logistics and strengthen Tasmania’s position as the world’s Antarctic gateway of choice.
Premier and minister for state development, trade and the Antarctic Jeremy Rockliff said the Port of Hobart and the state’s logistics capabilities support Tasmania as a hub of Antarctic activity.
“The sector also continues to support and create jobs, with the workforce growing by 32% in the past decade,” he said.
“These findings demonstrate the strength of the state’s contribution to Australia’s national Antarctic capability and cements Tasmania’s position as a world-leading gateway to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.”
The report said the arrival of the research vessel Nuyina in 2022 and ongoing involvement of international Antarctic programs in Tasmania are expected to increase Antarctic and Southern Ocean related expenditure in the future.
The Department of State Growth described Antarctica as “an expensive business” with research requiring investment in “complicated” logistical support.
In addition to research and icebreaking vessels, specially equipped aircraft and landing facilities, permanent bases housing expeditioners and scientific facilities support the Antarctic effort.
The department said resupplying bases with fuel, food, medical supplies, communications, scientific and heavy equipment is probably the single-most complex and expensive function an Antarctic program undertakes each year.
The state government noted Tasmania is one of five recognised gateway cities to the Antarctic, playing an important role in ongoing research and development of the region and Southern Ocean.
The 2023-24 Antarctic season commences in October, with expeditioners from Australia and international Antarctic programs departing from Hobart.
The local sector is also supported by the Tasmanian Polar Network, a unique industry body which aims to strengthen, promote and grow Tasmania’s business, education, training and research expertise.