The Australian Strategic Policy Institute opinion piece published in The Australian on 13 May 2021, completely ignores the current Antarctic Treaty System and the huge environmental impacts the proposed Davis Airport project will have on Antarctica. The claim that the proposal is a “good strategic move” or of “strategic imperative” is clearly false.
“The authors of the report would be well reminded that Australia’s Antarctic territory ‘claim’ was not only set aside permanently when Australia joined the Antarctic Treaty System, but that only four countries recognized this claim at all,” said Alistair Allan, Antarctic Campaigner for Bob Brown Foundation.
“The Davis Airport proposal has been estimated to increase human impact on the continent by a staggering 40%. The institute’s report casually shrugged this off as an unfortunate environmental impact. It is to be built on ice-free land, which the authors referred to as ‘prime real estate’. Ice-free areas, such as the proposed site in the Vestfold Hills, make up just 1% of Antarctica. This 1%, however, is home to 99% of all wildlife on the continent.”
“They suggest that ‘science is the currency of influence’ in Antarctica. If that is truly the case, then the fact that the Australian Antarctic Division hasn’t issued its ‘annual’ science grant since 2018 and spent $68.3 million dollars on the airport over the same period, is cause for alarm.”
“Australia wants to demonstrate leadership in Antarctica, but this airport will have us remembered as environmental villains, not leaders.”
“To be leaders, Australia should abandon the Davis Airport proposal, promote cooperation within the Antarctic Treaty System, increase funding for science and implement binding, near-term greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible. We should commit to the principles of the Antarctic treaty we signed. We certainly shouldn’t be encouraging countries to break up the Antarctic and kick off an infrastructure and territorial race, based on a massive concrete airport.”