The decision to close the research station on Macquarie Island will be a betrayal for Australian Antarctic Research.
Earlier this year the Turnbull Government announced “a new era of Antarctic engagement”. Malcolm Turnbull said “Australia’s Antarctic science programme is one of our most iconic and enduring national endeavours. Antarctica is of great importance to Australians, and Antarctic science will continue to be one of our national priorities.”
It’s now clear that this “new era” will involve winding up a scientific base that has been operating for almost 70 years.
As the only base between Australia and Antarctica, Macquarie Island is in a pivotal position for Australian Antarctic science and for monitoring climate data. This work is now set to be abandoned by a government who is not committed to science, and not committed to the environment.
Scientists have conducted vital research on Macquarie Island – earlier this year, researchers released findings on Macquarie Island’s unique ecosystem, as the only known place in the world to exist without pollinating birds and bees. This work provided important information for scientists studying declining bee populations. Its unique environment was recognised with a World Heritage listing.
I’m particularly saddened for the dozen or so expeditioners and scientists who have been living and working on Macquarie Island, who have shown great dedication to their research.