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.

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