Tasmania's Antarctic strengths on show to the World Mon 11 June 2012 Lara Giddings Premier David O'Byrne Minister for Economic Development Download hi-res version Download hi-res version The Premier, Lara Giddings, and the Minister for Economic Development, David O'Byrne, today welcomed delegates to the 35th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Hobart. Tasmania is hosting the international event for the very first time, with hundreds of delegates from 50 nations attending. "Tasmania has a rich historical connection to Antarctica - we were the gateway for Sir Douglas Mawson's historic 1911 expedition and the location from which Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reported to the world that he had successfully reached the South Pole," Ms Giddings said. "Our connection to the frozen continent endures today with such a strong science and research program. "If you're passionate about Antarctica Tasmania is the second best place in the world to be, besides the frozen continent itself. "We have the highest concentration of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic researchers in the nation, and our institutions and businesses with cold-climate expertise contribute more than $180 million to Tasmania's economy each year. "My trade mission to Asia later this year will have a strong focus on promoting Tasmania as a base for Antarctic research and exploration." The Minister for Economic Development, David O'Byrne, said Hobart's achievements in the Antarctic field are globally significant, and the Government has the strategy and commitment to build on that momentum. "The Tasmanian Governments Economic Development Plan is about diversifying our economy, and playing to our strengths to create new markets and new jobs," Mr O'Byrne said. "Our Antarctic sector is one of those major natural and geographical advantages. "It's identified as a key priority in the Economic Development Plan, which provides a researched and strategic plan for growing the sector over the next decade and beyond. "Hosting this major international meeting is further recognition of our growing reputation, and a fitting part of our Antarctic Centenary celebrations. "It's a unique opportunity to show the world's polar community exactly what's special about our Antarctic scientists, facilities and culture, first hand," he said. Australia was one of the 12 original signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, which came into effect in 1961, enshrining agreed principles including that Antarctica forever be used for peaceful purposes. "This agreement for international cooperation was particularly significant given that it was signed at the height of the Cold War," Ms Giddings said. "The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings are critical to ensure that the regulations and guidelines for the management of the Antarctic Treaty area remain relevant and effective more than half a century after the signing or the original agreement." The meeting runs until Wednesday June 20th.