CANBERRA, AAP – The federal government will put aside $800 million for strategic and scientific research and exploration in Antarctica.

Environment Minister Susan Ley said new drones and helicopters will allow researchers to go inland into areas they haven’t been before and set up mobile base stations.

But she said the investment also strengthened the Antarctic Treaty System, amid concerns of Chinese and Russian assertiveness in the region.

“It is strengthening our presence, it is strengthening our science, it is strengthening our environmental protection,” Ms Ley told the ABC.

“There have been pressures from within the Antarctic Treaty System. There are times over the history of our involvement in Antarctica when you need to step up and this is one of those times.


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“It is new investment that locks in a 20-year strategy in Antarctica and that is important.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia is closely monitoring the expansion of Chinese activity in Antarctica.

“Yes, there are other claimants down there, there are other countries who are increasingly active,” he told the Nine Network.

“We want to ensure that Australia’s national interest is protected.”

The funding is also expected to create at least 100 more permanent jobs.

Australia lays claim to more than 42 per cent of the continent – known as the Australian Antarctic Territory – where it has three bases: Mawson, Casey and Davis.