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Wednesday, 27 March 1985
Page: 879

Senator MAGUIRE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Science. Has he seen a report in the Adelaide News of last Friday referring to Antarctica and headed 'Mawson Huts must be Restored'? What has been the role of the Commonwealth in the restoration of these historic huts, built by Sir Douglas Mawson in the Antarctic at the turn of the century, and has any recent approach been made to the Commonwealth Government for funds to subsidise the cost of chartering a vessel to go to the Antarctic to restore these huts?

Senator BUTTON —The Press article in question has been drawn to my attention. Let me say first that the article arises from the putting together of a private expedition called Project Blizzard, which is planning to restore Mawson's hut but which would seek government assistance with shipping costs in carrying out that initiative. Project Blizzard inspected Mawson's hut at Commonwealth Bay last December and January to assess the condition of the building and artefacts, and assistance was provided for that initiative by the Antarctic Division of the Department of Science. A preliminary report from Project Blizzard indicates that the hut appears not to have deteriorated significantly since an Antarctic Division group inspected it in 1978. However, the need for conservation work will be assessed on the basis of Project Blizzard's detailed report, which is expected in June.

It is most unlikely that resources would be available to assist with the charter of a vessel solely for Project Blizzard's activities; that is, for the private initiative. The diversion of an Antarctic Division vessel to Commonwealth Bay would be very expensive, given that the area is so far off our normal shipping routes. I am unable to give a final answer on this question because the Minister is scheduled to meet with expedition organisers early next month and presumably from that discussion some agreed, or otherwise, position will arise.