The Tasmanian Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz criticized the decision, calling it "huge disappointment " while Australia risked loosing "our foot " on Antarctica to China and Russia.
The last fortnight of parliamentary session of the year was marked by government divisions , with a number of backbenchers expressedant their dissent or crossing the floor on issues ranging from a strong integrity commission at vaccine mandates at religious discrimination .
The final flashpoint is the announcement by Liberal Environment Minister Sussan Ley that the government will protect the pristine nature of the 'Antarctica by not making the decision to build a 2,700m concrete runway at Davis, Australia, research station ".
Scientists from the " 'environment had argued that the plan moreTheir billion dollars was a waste of money and could lead to a destructive construction race among territorial rivals.
There were also concerns that the new airport and runway increase human footprint in the world's largest wilderness by approximately 40% and impact penguin colonies.
Ley said she weighed the costs, potential environmental impacts and complexity of a 20-year construction process "in an extreme and sensitive environment ".
Ley described his decision not to proceed as a signal to other countries about "Australia 's commitment to due process and sound environmental assessment ”- and called on other countries to respect the Antarctic environment in the same way.
"All nations must pto put the Antarctic environment at the relative center of decision-making and respect the treaty system, "she said Thursday morning.
But less 'an hour after the announcement, Abetz said "the overwhelming strategic and capability support the runway would have provided was sadly lost ".
"It appears to be a final decision - and a retrograde decision, the task is to ensure that the funding intended for the runway is fully available for other Antarctic capabilities "said Abetz.
" Tasmania 's global reputation as a gateway to Antarctica will be called into question, as will our commitment, unless there is a strong and unequivocal announcement of the preservation of funding and the new direction of investments. "
Abetz said Australia must " investin other strategic and capability support infrastructure to ensure The international community cannot doubt our commitment to Antarctica ".
" At one point where China and Russia are rapidly expanding their footprint on the glacial continent, it is relatively essential that we do not loosen our grip, ”said Abetz.
Senator New South Wales liberal Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, another Chinese hawk, said: "In the face of growing Chinese and Russian assertiveness in Antarctica, it is a step backwards.
She added:" I agree with Senator Abetz that we should notnot lose foothold when these powers are widening their footprints.
The comments come amid a debate over how Australia should respond to concerns about China's interest in China. exploration of resources in Antarctica.
Claire Young, former Australian Bureau of National Intelligence senior analyst covering Antarctica, writes in a recent policy note that China "wants to profit economically, and potentially militarily, from Antarctica ".
Young's paper, released by the Lowy Institute, said China is increasingly assertive in the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), mainly on access to fisheries, and was active on the ice.
She said the treaty required Antarctica to be used only for peaceful purposes and sawntifics, and “freezes” challenges to Australia's claim to Australia's Antarctic territory - the largest of the seven claims, about 42% of the continent.
Off the runway the project won't be the last word, according to Ley, who says the government is now examining alternative options to expand the capacity of Australia's larger Antarctic program.
Ley said the government would make announcements in the "next future" regarding new investments "to strengthen Australia 's scientific and environmental interests in Antarctica.
Last month Australia has taken delivery of its new Antarctic icebreaker from the Netherlands, the RSV Nuyina. The ship, which is to be moored in Hobart, is capable of chartingthe ocean floor to a depth of 11,000 meters and will act as a "floating laboratory" to monitor the health of the oceans and marine ecosystems.
Despite the icy relations between China and Australia, the two countries collaborated on a medical evacuation mission for an Australian Antarctic Expeditionary at the end of the year last, with the help of the United States.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also suggested that Australia and France could start repair their diplomatic disagreement by cooperating on common interests such as Antarctica.