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$17 million for Australian Institute of Marine Science.



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4 May 2000            00/135 

$17 MILLION FOR AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF MARINE SCIENCE  The Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, today gave the go-ahead for $17 million to be spent on the refurbishment of the Cape Ferguson laboratories and the design and construction of a new vessel for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) near Townsville. 

Senator Minchin's announcement at the Aquarium and Southbank Convention Centre in Townsville was made following consideration of the Chief Scientist's, Dr Robin Batterham, recent review of marine science infrastructure in the Townsville region. 

"The key findings and conclusions of Dr Batterham's review will form part of a broader Review of Tropical Marine Research. These findings give strong recognition to the relevance, performance and multiple benefits of AIMS," Senator Minchin said 

"The Commonwealth Government's decision to proceed with the Cape Ferguson laboratories refurbishment program and the design and construction of a new research vessel highlights our commitment to marine science research in the Townsville region. It gives certainty to AIMS and those who seek to collaborate, further enhancing the Institute's research capability. 

"It is particularly fitting that this announcement is made during National Science Week as the Cape Ferguson site is ideal for marine research support into the sustainable use and protection of the marine environment. 

"As an integral and indispensable part of Australia's marine science effort, AIMS' Cape Ferguson facilities are optimal for access to the Great Barrier Reef. The collaborative nature of much of AIMS' research and strategic planning results means it has the capacity to deliver world-class tropical reef research.  

"This research provides an essential resource for James Cook University, the Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 

"I note also that AIMS is also providing the necessary research support for existing and emerging industries, such as tourism, aquaculture and "biodiscovery" of useful marine

chemicals. 

"The decision to proceed with the refurbishment program of the new wing and existing main building will further enhance the Institute's research capability and independence." 

Every year AIMS injects around $20 million into the local and broader Queensland economy, through direct employment and purchase of locally produced services.

The design and construction of the new wing and the refurbishment of existing facilities at Cape Ferguson, estimated to cost about $12.5 million, is expected to be undertaken by local firms.  

Up to 150 people would be directly employed on the project during the design, construction and refurbishment phases. A total of $4.15 million has been dedicated to the new vessel and the refurbishment of AIMS' second vessel, the Lady Basten. 

"I concur with the report's findings that a regional approach to research and the location of research infrastructure is an important strategy for the future of Australian marine science arrangements in place in the Townsville region serve as a model for replication elsewhere in Australia," Senator Minchin concluded. 

Contact: Steve Ronson, Senator Minchin's office, 0419 432 664

       Liz Tynan, AIMS Science Communications Manager, 07 4753 4250 

CMR183-00  

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