The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Australia in Antarctica: Building on Mawson's legacy
26 February 2014
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Today we celebrate an important milestone in Australia’s Antarctic history – 100 years since Australian geologist, Dr Douglas Mawson, returned from his epic two-year Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE).
The end of the centenary was an opportune time to reflect on Mawson’s legacy, and on Australia’s Antarctic achievements and plans in Antarctica.
The 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition represents the genesis of Australia’s modern Antarctic program and laid the foundations for the establishment of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The results of their scientific work filled volumes, with daily observations of temperature, pressure, humidity, snow fall, wind speed and direction, magnetic and tide measurements, as well as descriptions of the geology and plant and animal life of Cape Denison.
Many of their observations and collections are being used today, providing 100 years of comparative data for monitoring environmental change.
Just as science was a priority for Mawson’s AAE, it continues to play a key role in the future of Australia in Antarctica.
The Government is committed to building on Australia’s Antarctic legacy through the modern Australian Antarctic program. The Government’s 20 year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan is due to be delivered in July and will focus on putting strategies in place to ensure Australia remains a leading Antarctic nation.
The 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan will build on Australia’s proud Antarctic legacy that began with Douglas Mawson’s expedition, by looking at how we strengthen Australia’s scientific research and maintain our strong presence in Antarctica.
We want to see the Antarctic environment preserved not just for a short period, but for the long run. Australia has a major role to play in achieving that outcome, including through its world-leading scientific work.
The end of the centenary is being commemorated by the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart with an exhibition of photographs depicting the day-to-day lives and challenges of the 32 men of the AAE, at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery’s recently renovated Bond Store.