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Historic Antarctic document brought to Australia



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Minister for Science .

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600. Telephone 733371

Q6

MEDIA RELEASE

9 March 1977

HISTORIC ANTARCTIC DOCUMENT BROUGHT TO AUSTRALIA .

The Minister for Science, Senator Webster, ' ' announced today that the historic document proclaiming British sovereignty over King George V Land, now part of Australian Antarctic Territory, has been brought to Australi

from Antarctica to. ensure its preservation.

The proclamation document arrived in Hobart this morning on the polar ship Thaia Dan.

The Minister said the document, which proclaimed sovereignty over a 600,000·square kilometre area of Antarctica immediately south of Australia, was an important. and priceless item of Australian heritage. '

The Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, leading a British, Australian and Hew Zealand Antarctic. Research Expedition (BAHZARE), made the proclamation at Commonwealth Bay on 5 January 1931· .

Sir Douglas had a Royal Commission from King George V and instructions from the Prime Minister of Australia to take possession of territories in Antarctica.

He landed and "read proclamations at Commonwealth Bay and several other locations along the Antarctic coast­ line, taking possession for the British Crown.

' King George V Land and the other areas over which . sovereignty was proclaimed were established as Australian Antarctic Territory two years later by an Order in Council, " and Australia formally accepted the Territory by Act of

Parliament in 1933· . "

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MINISTER FOR SCIENCE* ·

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Senator Webster said an Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition helicopter party from the Thaia Dan recently inspected the King George V Land \ proclamation site and found that the canister containing

the proclamation had rusted through. Although protected · only by a frozen piece of plastic wrapping, however, the . , . _ , , . , . «Î“ι'. 1ut :

document was m good condition. » VFC£\ ■ ■ ' ■ Λ .)>.

To ensure its preservation, the document had been brought to Australia for examination by the Conservation Laboratory o”f the National Library. "

. A certified copy of the document was left

with other papers in a secure container at the proclamation site.

Senator Webster said the visiting party from the Thaia Dan also recovered from the ice a sled which had been used by Mawson on his historic expedition.

The sled, too, had been brought back to Australia on the Thaia Dan.

Further information: David Luders

Telephone: Canberra 83-2631