Bob Parker has described as a "bit of a joke" lobbying by Australia to have the long-standing United States Antarctic operations in the city relocated across the Tasman.

And the United States Antarctic Programme itself has no plans to leave New Zealand and is, in fact, looking to extend its presence in Christchurch.

The apparent efforts to poach Operation Deep Freeze, after 50 years of being based in Christchurch, are revealed in a WikiLeaks cable, which comments on a discussion last year between Australian Environment, Heritage and Arts Minister Peter Garrett and US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich.

"Garrett pointed to the availability of air transport from Australia in only four hours [compared with eight hours for US aircraft based in New Zealand] as a strong incentive to travel there, and suggested senior USG [US Government] officials interested in travelling in Antarctica could use Australia as a base vice (sic) the existing infrastructure in New Zealand," Bleich wrote in the cable.

Mr Parker said facts outlined in the cable were wrong. Christchurch offered a more direct route to the American airfields in Antarctica than the Australian link from Hobart, and times depended on aircraft type.

"I'm not the least bit concerned about this leak. In fact, if I was Mr Garrett, I would be a bit embarrassed about it because it does portray a significant lack of understanding of both the relationship and the logistical common sense of using Christchurch," he said.

"It's a bit of a joke really. In saying that, I'm certainly not taking for granted the relationship that we have with both the US and the National Science Foundation [manager of the Antarctic programme], which we value above the economic returns it brings to our city. We value it because Christchurch City and Operation Deep Freeze are brothers-in-arms."

National Science Foundation representative Art Brown told the Herald: "We have no policy discussions, and are making no plans, to relocate from Christchurch.

"In fact, right now, we are in negotiation with the Christchurch Airport for extending one of our leases, which would be an indication that we have an interest in staying in Christchurch in the long term."

Christchurch offered an international airport, a port and an excellent flight industry and medical infrastructure, Mr Brown said.

"Those are key things for us. And I would also say that through the years we have developed mutually shared values ... and mutually beneficial programmes."

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