Taxpayers footing bill for Antarctic inquiry
TERRITORY politicians Warren Snowdon and Malarndirri McCarthy have jetted off to Antarctica on a taxpayer-funded trip.
The Labor members left for the trip yesterday morning as delegates of the federal Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories as it conducts an inquiry into Australia’s Antarctic Territory.
Mr Snowdon (pictured, left) is the Member for Lingiari, which includes the external territories of Christmas and Cocos Islands. The islands are represented in the Senate by NT senators, including Ms McCarthy (pictured, right).
Ms McCarthy and Mr Snowdon’s offices both went mum yesterday when contacted by the NT News for costings and itineraries for the trip.
Neither was able to provide requested details of the trip or its benefit to taxpayers and shunted any questions to the committee itself. Questions to the committee weren’t answered by deadline.
But Ms McCarthy wrote about the excursion on her Facebook page on Monday morning. “Casey Station will be our base for the Inquiry as we meet with scientists and visit ice drilling sites,” she wrote.
“The Inquiry will discuss the importance of climate and environmental research and examine the status of Australia’s role in the Antarctic Treaty.” The terms of reference of the inquiry, published on the joint committee’s website, show it aims to “report into the adequacy of Australia’s infrastructure assets and capability in Antarctica”, including environmental considerations and economic opportunities.
A spokeswoman for Ms McCarthy said committees were an important part of the parliamentary process and provided scrutiny of policy and performance.
“They also provide an opportunity for organisations and individuals to participate in policy making and to have their views placed on the public record and considered as part of the decision-making process,” she said.
The group spent two days in Hobart, holding public hearings with groups including the Australian Antarctic Division, the Tasmanian Government, CSIRO, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Oceans Research, Hobart Airport, Tas Ports and the Tasmanian Polar Network.
On Sunday, the group checked out the Australian Antarctic Division facilities and the Macquarie Point Development project in Hobart. The party is due to return from Antarctica on Wednesday night.