Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 16:54 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 16:54 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Antarctica and Hobart

9 August 2011 14:54

Anna Reynolds, Hobart resident and former Deputy Director of WWF's Global Climate Change program, responds to Ellie Fogarty, who blogged here about her new paper:

The paper, 'Antarctica: assessing and protecting Australia's national interests', provides useful ideas on issues surrounding Antarctic policy. What is less innovative is the paper's assumption that many of the challenges can be met by centralising bureaucrats in Canberra.

Australia is a geographically large nation and there are risks from an approach that sees all decision-making and policy development happening in one city. The private sector has been learning for the last decade that geographically dispersed teams add diversity of opinion and strength of analysis to complex tasks.

Before the days of videoconferencing, intranets, and email, teams needed to be in the same physical location in order to work effectively. But those days are long gone. Now, many of us work regularly with colleagues based in different cities, countries, and even continents. Ms Fogarty's paper proposes a solution that centralises Antarctic policy-making in Canberra, away from all of the expertise and intellectual capital that already exists in Hobart. That's no solution.

There are a great many benefits to building an even stronger and more diverse Antarctica policy team in Hobart, close to where other nations are coming and going from the region. I note that the Arctic Council (which manages policy and treaty negotiations for the eight Arctic nations) is run from Tromso, 1700 kilometres from the capital of Norway, Oslo. They have seen the benefits of locating a policy and co-ordination function in a community that lives and breathes the Arctic, rather than having specialised policy-making swamped in a sea of national departments.

Certainly, let's ensure Antarctic policy is more strongly integrated across a range of government departments – but let's not make the mistake of presuming that all problems can be fixed by a 'Canberra solution'.

Photo by Flickr user ryanxchow.