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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment

RECOGNITION FOR UNSUNG LOCAL ANTARCTIC HEROES


19 June 1998

Senator Ian Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic, will present medallions to 16 local former Antarctic expeditioners in a ceremony in Kingston today (Friday 19 June).

The medallions will be presented at the Australian Antarctic Division, as part of annual midwinter celebrations. They will be presented to past expeditioners whose valuable service has not previously been formally recognised.

"This Government takes great pride in the achievements of its past expeditioners, and proper recognition of the part they played in Australia's Antarctic effort is long overdue. I am delighted that the Coalition Government has agreed to retrospectively award the Antarctic Service Medallion to these unsung heroes' said Senator Macdonald.

"Having had the pleasure to meet with many returned expeditioners, I appreciate some of the hardships experienced by wintering expeditioners in an isolated and harsh environment. These hardships were felt even more keenly by those who wintered in the early years of ANARE. The contributions of many of these men have helped to shape the modern Australian Antarctic program and I am honoured to be able to formally acknowledge their pioneering efforts".

Among the recipients is Bill Budd of Margate. Bill has spent many years engaged in Antarctic research including two winters as a glaciologist, at Wilkes in 1961 and Mawson in 1964. Bill continued to work with the Antarctic Division until 1979, at which time he took up a position at Melbourne University as Professor of Meteorology. He currently leads the polar atmospheres program at the Cooperative Research Centre at the University of Tasmania.

Also to be honoured is Ken Assender of Battery Point. Ken wintered as a pilot at Mawson station in 1960. This was the last year the RAAF conducted year-round operations in Antarctica. Aircraft were destroyed during particularly harsh blizzards in both 1959 and 1960 and it was considered unsafe to continue the program. Ken has continued to hold a keen interest in Antarctic matters and is currently president of the Tasmanian branch of the ANARE Club, a social organisation for people who have visited Antarctica.

Prior to 1959 expeditioners wintering on continental stations were automatically awarded the Imperial Polar Medal, which finished by decision of the British Government after that time. The modern day service medallion was not introduced until 1968. No service recognition awards were granted for the intervening years. No service medallions were awarded to expeditioners wintering on the sub-Antarctic islands until 1971.

Senator Macdonald will be available at the Antatctic Division for interviews and photographs with some of the recipients at 12:00 noon. For further information contact James Shevlin on 0417 717 935 or Bridget Payne on 62 323 512.

Commonwealth of Australia