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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray
07 February 2002
Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Australia's Antarctic Program has strenuously denied claims by visitors to Mawson's Hut that the building and its contents are neglected and unloved.
The Antarctic Division regularly monitors the condition of the Hut, the base for one of Australia's greatest heroes, Sir Douglas Mawson, who explored the continent early last century. Preservation and protection work has been on going. This summer season the AAD sent Dr Ian Godfrey, materials conservator with the WA Museum to do the latest monitoring and report on what works were needed.
"This was Dr Godfrey's second visit to Mawson's Hut", Sharman Stone said.
"He was asked to assess the condition of all materials at the Hut site and to bring back any objects he thought would be better protected if relocated, say to a mainland museum".
Dr Godfrey accompanied the Sir Hubert Wilkins on its voyage to Antarctica and the Mawson's Hut location near Commonwealth Bay, on the same vessel as the visitors who later reported that they were alarmed at what they saw; a freakishly hot summer, melting layers of snow that had previously covered artefacts thrown out the door or left around the Hut by the explorers almost 100 years ago.
"In his preliminary report, Dr Godfrey has already indicated that in his professional opinion none of the objects within Mawson's Hut required immediate removal to preserve them".
"He also took steps to protect the interior by removing 370 kilograms of ice and snow from the area above Mawson's room, 75 kilograms from his chair and the surrounding floor areas and 280 kilograms of ice from shelving in the room", Sharman Stone said.
Sharman Stone said that the AAP Mawson's Hut Foundation had raised over $2 million to help preserve the Antarctic icon and the Federal Government had also contributed $560,000, as well as supplying technical advice through the Australian Antarctic Division and Australian Heritage Commission.
"The Mawson's Hut Conservation Management Plan has now been adopted by the Federal Government after wide public consultation. The plan was produced by Godden Mackay Logan, an independent heritage consultancy which has a strong record with other 'icon' heritage places in Australia".
"As part of the Mawson's Hut process, a public workshop was conducted in Sydney in 1998. Further consultation with the Australian Antarctic Division, the Australian Heritage Division and outside academic experts was also undertaken".
"The draft plan was made publicly available on the Foundation's website and sent to participants in the workshop".
"That does not mean that we will not change the way in which we preserve Mawson's Hut in the future", Sharman Stone said.
"The sole criteria for future preservation of the site is maintaining it in the best possible condition. I will continue to take advice from government and non-government experts as to the best way to manage the site".
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
Thursday February 7th, 2001