Monday 11 Oct 2021 | 00:41 | SYDNEY
Monday 11 Oct 2021 | 00:41 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Australia and Antarctica

30 August 2011 14:58

Markus Pfister writes:

I am glad to see Antarctica is back on the agenda and I welcome Ellie Fogarty's call to action.

Recent events in the South China Sea highlight the need for us to think and act seriously (ie. invest resources well in advance) in regard to our Antarctic claim. Essentially, we need to 'own the streets' in Antarctica. With regard to Ellie's suggestion: 'Responsibility for Australia's Antarctica program should be moved into an agency within the national security community in Canberra to promote greater cross-portfolio engagement. Australia should also invest in Antarctic sciences, logistics and infrastructure to promote greater presence in and use of the AAT.'

I wholeheartedly agree. I do however feel the need to caution against creating a perception of militarisation.

I see Australia's Antarctic presence as being more along the lines of the US Coast Guard — a sort of paramilitary police trained in and by Canada or Norway or some such place.

Ms Fogarty makes one other excellent point that segues nicely into another recent Interpreter theme: we need to be heavily engaged diplomatically on the subject. Australia will never be a military heavyweight — so we need to pursue more cerebral forms of power. Amongst other things, this means we need to be a diplomatic power. Allowing DFAT to run down can only be characterised as criminal neglect.