Mine Antarctica, says Barnaby Joyce
May 1, 2006
Controversial Queensland Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce says Australia should mine Antarctica before another country gets in first.
He says if Australia doesn't start exploiting the mineral wealth of Antarctica soon, then other countries will extract minerals from the pristine frozen continent.
Mining is banned on the continent under the Antarctic Treaty.
Australia was one of 12 nations that in 1959 signed the treaty which came into force on 23 June 1961.
Senator Joyce has just returned from a month-long trip, as a member of the federal parliament's External Territories Committee, to the Antarctic.
He says he's been fascinated with the frozen wilderness since childhood and when he collected stamps from the Australian Antarctic Territory.
During his trip, Senator Joyce kept a video diary, filming himself and his impressions of life on Casey Station and Macquarie Island, and his thoughts on Antarctica's future.
He told Australian Story, broadcast on ABC Television tonight, Australia may have no choice but to allow some form of development in Antarctica.
"We claim 42 per cent of the Antarctic but that claim is not recognised by quite a large number of countries," Senator Joyce said.
"There's minerals there, there's gold, there's iron ore, there's coal, there's huge fish resources and what you have to ask is: 'Do I turn my head and allow another country to exploit my resource ... or do I position myself in such a way as I'm going to exploit it myself before they get there'."
Australia did not have the power to keep the Antarctic in a pristine state and should look at exploiting the region in a sustainable way, he said.
Senator Joyce will also join Australian Story producer Ben Cheshire for a live internet forum following the program.
The Nationals senator last year crossed the floor to defeat a government bill and weathered a storm of publicity when he eventually voted with the government to sell off its majority stake in Telstra despite initially opposing the sell-off and campaigning against it at the 2004 election.