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Thursday, 26 February 1987
Page: 802

Mr GRACE —Will the Minister for Science explain the purpose of the two new summer bases established this summer in Antarctica? Are we keeping pace with Russian developments in our area?

Mr BARRY JONES —In the three years, 11 months and some days that we have been in office we have increased the number of bases in Antarctica from three to six. Three all the year round bases and three summer bases have been established.

Mr Hawke —We've roughly doubled it.

Mr BARRY JONES —We have roughly doubled the number as the Prime Minister, who is numerate above all things, points out. However, the Russians, who are playing an interesting chess game down there, have increased their effort from four bases to eight. In this season we have created two new important bases, one in Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay in the eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory and another in the Larsemann Hills, 120 kilometres west of Australia's Davis Station. The base in the eastern sector has been named, appropriately, the Commonwealth Bay Base, commemorating in part the work of Douglas Mawson there between 1911 and 1914. This is an area we have neglected, I think, pretty shamefully. It is the first base established there since 1914 and is in an area where the Russians already have quite a large base. This measure will be broadly supported by the House; there will be no partisan disagreement that we have to do more there.

The base at Larsemann Hills has been named-again, I think this will meet with general approval-the Law Base to commemorate the work of Dr Phillip Law, first leader of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition after the Second World War. He deserves to be recognised with some of the great pioneers such as Mawson and Davis. I am sure that honourable members will be pleased that that recognition has gone to Phillip Law.

The Commonwealth Bay Base will allow annual programs to be supported in an area from a site about one kilometre from Mawson's hut. The base will be developed over the next few years to support more research in that area and to allow further work on conservation of Mawson's hut, Australia's most significant historical site in Antarctica. The Law Base at Larsemann Hills will be used to support geological and biological students, The base can accommodate 17 expeditioners in a modular building and three igloo-shaped shelters. It has not been planned that major programs will be conducted in the Larsemann Hills area this summer. However, following Nella Dan's besetment and inability to land a party at Edgeworth David Station, something to which the honourable member for La Trobe can testify, this program was transferred to the Law Base. A field party from the Soviet Union has also established camp in the Larsemann Hills at a site approximately two kilometres from the Law Base.