photo: US Embassy New Zealand/CC BY-ND
Australia claims 42% of Antarctica as its own, though the international community doesn't recognize that claim. Now, the Lowy Institute for International Policy has issued a policy brief urges the nation to stop thinking of Antarctic as a national security issue. As The Age glibly puts it, stop thinking of Antarctica as just a "scientific playground".
Behind it all: Climate change and similar growing ambitions to grab natural resources to what we're seeing in the Arctic.The policy brief notes that other nations are beginning to plan for warmer conditions to make access easier.
The brief says:
Chile is investing in a new ice-breakers ship, ski-equipped planes and helicopters as well as extensive Antarctic astronomy and astrophysics, and is refurbishing stations for year-round occupation.
Lowy Institute recommends that Australian military personnel engage in greater "peaceful and scientific roles" in Antarctic operations.
The Age notes that Australia may have the world's third-largest oil reserves, but can't exploit them due to the limiting of oil exploration in Antarctica under international treaty.