Antarctic mission and Great Barrier Reef secure funding

Australia’s Antarctic Division gets a shot in the arm and a carbon-credit scheme is being revived in this year’s federal budget.

The Antarctic program’s main research vessel, RSV Nuyina, will be able to spend more time at sea after $17.6 million was dedicated to operations.

The Macquarie Island research station, crucial for Antarctic monitoring missions, will be rebuilt with $163.3 million of public funds for critical safety works and year-round scientific programs.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the move provided urgent investment in Australia’s research capabilities to better protect the natural world.

Australia’s carbon-credit scheme, subject to an independent review in 2023 that urged greater transparency and integrity amid widespread scientific criticism, will be boosted by $48 million under a suite of reforms including a new integrity committee.

The Great Barrier Reef has been provided $5 million for its marine park authority to engage tourism operators undertaking reef monitoring, protection and other stewardship activities, the 2024/25 federal budget papers show.

The government has been fighting to keep the reef off the list of World Heritage sites in danger, as evidence of bleaching across three quarters of the ecosystem was found in April.

Environmental legal advocacy organisations the Environmental Defenders Office and Environmental Justice Australia have had $300,000 in annual funding removed in a partial reversal of Labor’s 2022 budget measures.

The money will instead flow to litter and conservation groups like Clean Up Australia and Keep Australia Beautiful, which will receive $1.3 million over four years.

Two years of funding worth $40.9 million has been allocated to the Nature Repair Market, a scheme where businesses and philanthropists would be able to come forward and invest in projects to protect the environment, including removing invasive species or replanting habitats.

The market was established in December 2023 and will be operated by the Clean Energy Regulator.

No new funding for the national Environmental Protection Agency, announced in December, was apparent in the budget papers.


Esther Linder
(Australian Associated Press)


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