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09 November 2009

Understanding of the north's rich tropical marine endowment will be enhanced today following the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding between Charles Darwin University, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, The Australian National University and the Northern Territory Government.

The Memorandum details a framework of cooperative research, academic and training activities, and expanded research infrastructure, helping to ensure sustainable and community-friendly development of tropical marine resources.

In announcing the new agreement, the Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, said $5.5 million in extra funding had been allocated to upgrade infrastructure and equipment at Darwin's Arafura Timor Research Facility (ATRF). The new resources have been made available through the Federal Government's Super Science - Marine and Climate initiative. Senator Carr said Australia had the third largest ocean territory in the world, but too little was known about its marine estate.

"We are a marine nation but our level of knowledge does not yet match the magnitude of our marine resources. The Rudd Government is making marine science an innovation priority," he said.

"Marine research is of great importance to Australia's future prosperity and wellbeing. For example, strategic marine science has a vital role in supporting sustainable development of coastal resources in Australia's north.

"In this year's Federal Budget, the Government allocated $387.7million for infrastructure for marine research and climate change research – including $55 million for tropical marine science infrastructure at AIMS."

The CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Dr Ian Poiner, speaking on behalf of the memorandum parties, said it was critical to work together to understand the unique ecosystems of the Arafura and Timor Seas.

"This memorandum of understanding between the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Charles Darwin University, The Australian National University and the Northern Territory Government is about demonstrating the links and connections between organisations, levels of government and communities," Dr Poiner said.

Northern Territory Environment Minister Karl Hampton today welcomed the $5.5 million in extra funding.

"The Territory Government continues to build and strengthen partnerships to support vital research that benefits all Territorians," Mr Hampton said.

Under the MOU the following programs and activities will be encouraged:

  • Appointment of appropriate AIMS and NTG staff to adjunct academic positions at CDU and/or ANU
  • Appointment of appropriate CDU, ANU and NTG staff to adjunct research positions at AIMS
  • Cooperative and collaborative research activities
  • Access to research infrastructure and equipment
  • Funding of joint appointments of research staff
  • Joint research training activities including the funding of scholarships for Higher Degree by Research students
  • Joint supervision of Higher Degree by Research students.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Ian Poiner , AIMS CEO, 0419 702 652;

Professor Barney Glover, CDU Vice-Chancellor; 0439 675 567

Dr David Parry, AIMS Science Leader, Darwin, 0419 820 724; 08 8920 9240;

Wendy Ellery, AIMS media liaison, 0418 729 265;

Robyn McDougall, CDU media manager, 0439 675 567;

Martyn Pearce,Media Officer, The Australian National University, 02 6125 5575; 0416 249 245;

Edwin Edlund,Media Advisor to Minister Hampton, 0401119563.

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