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Wednesday, 24 February 1971

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Supply) - by leave - Honourable senators will be aware that the drama involving a young Australian on Heard Island over the past week or so has ended happily. Last Wednesday 1 reported to the Senate that Mr Ian Holmes of Melbourne, an ANARE member of a French expedition to Heard Island, had broken a leg on the Gotley Glacier on Saturday, 13th February. He had to remain there while the nearest ship carrying helicopters, the Danish ship 'Nella Dan', which is under contract to the Australian Government, was able to reach Heard Island from the Australian base at Mawson in the Antarctic.

The rescue operation began at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday using 2 helicopters, one of which lowered Dr Grahame Budd, who had been with Mr Holmes when the accident occurred, onto the glacier. Mr Holmes was strapped in a stretcher and lifted to a landing site some 300 yards away and then transferred to the ship. A landing party from the ship was returned by the other helicopter. The whole operation took 1 hour and 20 minutes. Mr Holmes' physical condition appeared excellent, in fact no worse than that of a man who had broken his leg in difficult surroundings, and his morale was very high. The 'Nella Dan' is now proceeding to Mawson, where she will unload equipment and supplies and pick up expeditioners for return to Melbourne. ] am quite sure that the course of action taken to rescue Mr Holmes was the only one possible in the circumstances. The whole exercise has emphasised that although the greatest care is taken in planning and preparing for our expeditions in the Antarctic, accidents sometimes do happen. I am pleased that this rescue operation went so smoothly and was carried out in the shortest possible time. Particularly I would like to point out how quickly and positively everyone concerned reacted in the situation. Signatory nations to the Antarctic treaty responded almost immediately to our initial inquiries concerning the whereabouts of other ships in the area. Unfortunately none was closer than the Nella Dan'. 1 am most grateful to Captain Neilsen of the 'Nella Dan' for the support of his officers and men throughout this episode.

Finally, I would like to praise the staff of the Antarctic Division for their skill and resourcefulness, and to thank the Bureau of Meteorology for its help during this emergency in the Antarctic.

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