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Strategic Insights 66 - Cold calculations: Australia's Antarctic challenges

By Anthony Bergin, Peter Jennings, Marcus Haward, Andrew Jackson, Anthony Press, Sam Bateman, Julia Jabour, Stephen Nicol, Patrick G Quilty, Lyn Goldsworthy

This Strategic Insights looks at the range of Australian objectives in Antarctica, the assumptions that underpin those goals, and the options open for us to best achieve our aims. It’s hoped that this report will inform those responsible for formulating and implementing our Antarctic policies. 

The paper looks at a range of strategic policy interests we have in Antarctica and whether we need to trade off any of these goals: 

  • preserving our sovereignty over our Antarctic territory 
  • maintaining the continent free from confrontation and militarisation 
  • protecting the Antarctic environment 
  • taking advantage of the special opportunities Antarctica offers for science 
  • deriving economic benefits from Antarctica 
  • insuring against unpredictable developments down south.

How we weigh and set both complementary and competing priorities among our Antarctic objectives (even if it’s somewhat imprecise) will be a key challenge, as will judging how other Antarctic players react to our policy objectives and our pursuit of them. Some of our policies mightn’t be complementary with those of other Antarctic players.