[ABC News]: Address from Parliament House
Commonwealth of Australia
- Jul 2, 2018
"We're crossing live now to Parliament House in Canberra where the Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories will be addressing the media..."
The screen would show the Prime Minister, Paul Keating, and Minister for the Environment, Ros Kelly, walk up to the podium. On the bottom of the screen it would read "BREAKING: AUSTRALIAN SCIENTISTS ARRESTED IN ANTARCTICA."
The Prime Minister would speak.
"Good afternoon everybody,
About half an hour ago I received last communications from the captain of the Australian Icebreaker, the Aurora Australis to inform us that the crew of that ship were currently in the process of being detained by Swedish authorities. From what we understand, numerous Swedish Naval vessels had tracked the Aurora Australis to its current location which is the construction site for the Casey Station, the research station we had intended to build in Antarctica. I was on the phone with the Prime Minister of Sweden and reiterated to him that threats and intimidation of this nature are entirely unwarranted and that this Government will not bow to such threats. These are scientists, completely unarmed, working in the interest of conducting research. At no point in their mission did they pose any threat to Swedish interests in the Antarctic. We do not wish to impede any Swedish activity in the Antarctic. However, the Swedish Government made it clear to us and only as this situation unfolded that they wish to exercise complete and uninterrupted sovereignty over Antarctica, which means that they consider Australians operating their as unauthorised arrivals.
We dispute their claim to the entirety of Antarctic. This is an untouched continent, full of natural beauty. We do not believe that any one nation has the right to exercise full sovereignty over it. And we had, unfortunately, expected that a developed and advanced western nation like Sweden would also share with us that similar liberal ethos. To say that this Government is disappointed in the Swedish actions is an understatement. This was completely.... unexpected behaviour. We do believe the Swedish are fully aware that their claim is widely unrecognised by the international community and we had offered them a forum to discuss the matter of Antarctica in the Global Assembly but unfortunately this has made them more agitated. We will continue to go ahead with the Global Assembly resolution and we will continue to strive for a peaceful outcome and the return of those Australian scientists.
This is nothing but outright aggression by the Swedish Government, unprovoked and unexpected. The only reason to pull the unauthorised arrivals card is if you have something to protect from unauthorised arrivals. We do it because... we have cities, we have communities, we have an economy. There is nothing of similar nature in Antarctica even if Sweden exercised legitimate authority over the continent. There is no reason why our scientists should be impeded. We are asking the Swedish Government to allow the freedom of movement of non-military personnel on the Antarctic continent whilst this matter is before the Global Assembly.
Antarctica needs to be demilitarised. It needs to be used only for peaceful purposes and every naiton of the world should have unimpeded access to the continent to conduct scientific research. These are liberal values which we hope that liberal-thinking countries like Sweden will uphold, because at this point in time they are acting unnecessarily aggressive. I will pass on to Ros to say a few words."
"Uh, good afternoon,
Whilst I am saddened by this news, it will not diminish the hopes and spirits of the Australian Antarctic Division and indeed the broader Department for the Environment, Sport and Territories in order to achieve our goal of scientific research in the Antarctic. We still maintain our base on Macquarie Island and I am assured that that premise is secure. I know our scientists and everybody working on the Antarctic are keen to get down and do some actual work, they've studied and they've committed their careers to the pursuit of Antarctic research and it is my goal to see them do that. As for the Aurora Australis... well it is my hope we get that back, along with our detained personnel. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those scientists and this Government will do everything they can in their power to get them back."
The Prime Minister would speak again.
"Yes, and can I just say, it is my hope that the international community will join us in condemning this move and will join us in debating the Resolution on Antarctica which is before the Global Assembly. We must get this right, we must get a international legal framework in place for this, the last place on earth with no sovereign territory. It is a continent for all of us to share and for all of us to enjoy, not just one. We also ask other members of the international community to formally dispute Sweden's claim. Now I think that's a bit ridiculous that needs to be done but they seem to have this thing in their mind that if its not disputed its somehow theirs which is a bit of a uhhh... well I'm not sure how they came to that conclusion in international legal precedence." The Prime Minister would let out a chuckle.
"Anyway, we will take questions now."