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Thursday, 29 May 1997
Page: 4040

Senator HOGG(6.02 p.m.) —Like a number of organisations whose reports have come before this Senate, the Australian Antarctic Foundation is in a particularly unfortunate situation. In reading this report one finds that this is the last report of this foundation because funding has now ceased. In the chairman's overview, he says:

While I can appreciate the cause of this decision, I am nevertheless disappointed it has had to be made.

He goes on to outline the purpose of the foundation:

It has:

.   enhanced Australia's international reputation by assisting international cooperation in science and information dissemination;

.   initiated action to publicise the importance of conserving Antarctic flora and fauna; and

.   provided a source of funding to record through the various media Australia's involvement in this unique part of the world.

I would have thought this was a very laudable and praiseworthy objective indeed.

The total expenditure on projects in 1995-96 was $233,331. That was not a great amount of money but it obviously contributed towards showing Australia's desire, Aust ralia's urge, not only to be involved in this area but to publicise it on a reasonably wide basis. The original objective was the funding of activity which would establish a wider understanding of international Antarctic issues, which even included things such as tourism in Antarctica and measures to protect the Antarctic environment.

I think those things should not be allowed to slip. Hence the demise of this particular foundation seems to me to be very sad indeed. There is no doubt that this brief report—it is not voluminous—does show that Australia, as a very close nation to the Antarctic, is playing its role—a role which is not dominated solely by government.

I thought it would be worth while to bring this report to the Senate's attention this evening and to commend it to those members of the Senate who might otherwise have passed over it. Whilst the foundation is in recess or has had its life cut short through lack of funds, it was undoubtedly very worth while for the community and for Australians at large.