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16th May 1997, Parliament House, Canberra
Address by Senator Ian MacDonald
Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment
- Thanks very much Garry Nehl, supporter extraordinaire of Australia's involvement in the Antarctic and two times expeditioner, to as well my friend and colleague The Hon Peter McGauran, Minister for Science & Technology, also a great supporter of Australia's science effort in the Antarctic, he is a genuine supporter and one who is always involved in the Antarctic and we're very pleased to have Peter's support on side. As well to the Hon Jim Webster, who I learnt last night was the first serving Minister to actually attend our base on the Antarctic Continent, His Excellency the Norwegian Ambassador, Mr Rex Moncur, the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division other parliamentary colleagues and without singling out more than three can I perhaps recognise the three most recent parliamentary expeditioners, my Senate colleagues Kay Patterson and Sue Knowles and Mr Graeme McDougall.
- Also I would have liked to have been able to acknowledge my boss the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill but as Garry has said Robert would dearly have loved to have been doing this but he is delayed, endlessly it might seem in the Senate Chamber as we try to get the National Heritage Trust through its Committee stages with, I must say, some great difficulties because of the antics of one or two Senators who seem determined to hold that Bill up as far as they can - surprisingly. But to all of those people, to other supporters of the Antarctic and other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
- This wonderful exhibition of photographs that you see, certainly has a magnetism about it. Because last week, when they started setting it up the temperature in Canberra was a fairly comfortable 23 degrees. As if in sympathy with the subject of the exhibition, it then plummeted to a fairly chilly 3 degrees this morning. So it perhaps shows the impact that the Antarctic has on all of us.
- The Bureau of Meteorology however tells me that these cold temperatures won't get down to the lowest ever recorded Antarctic temperature of minus 89 degrees Celsius, recorded in the Australian Antarctic territory in 1983 - so I guess we have that much to be thankful for.
- But Ladies and Gentlemen, on a warmer note this year marks the 50th anniversary of a great national enterprise. Half a century ago, a small band of adventurous Australians landed at Atlas Cove on Heard Island, a remote outpost of Australia some 4000 kilometres south-west of Perth or about 6500 kilometres from where we stand today.
- Another small group about the same time established a camp at Macquarie Island some 1500 kilometres south-east of Tasmania.
- From these humble beginnings, many thousands of Australian men and women have become part of the growing community of Australians from all walks of life - tradespeople, professionals, scientists, technicians, doctors, cooks, plumbers, administrators who have lived and worked in the Antarctic
- These people make up the community called ANARE - Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions. They have two things in common - a sense of adventure and a wish to serve their country.
- I feel privileged to have been given the responsibility for Australia's Antarctic Program in the Jubilee year of ANARE. The 50th anniversary of ANARE is an opportunity for all of us involved in the Antarctic Program to reflect with pride on what we've done in the past, and to take stock of where we are going in the future.
- Many events and activities have been planned to celebrate this anniversary and coincidentally today also marks the launch by Australia Post of a stunning ANARE Jubilee commemorative stamp issue. And I would tell all of you in a little commercial, that they are today available from the Parliament House post office and I hope you will avail yourself of the first day issue.
- The dominant theme of this wonderful photographic exhibition you see is the power and wonder of nature. This theme is also a growing preoccupation of our scientists in Antarctica - the world's pre-eminent yardstick for global change.
- With concern growing about current or potential threats to the global environment, our goals in Antarctica are now firmly focused on the future of our planet. In deed I think it's probably fitting to record that in this week's Budget, the Australian Government again provided for an increase in the amount of our Antarctic budget spent in science which is now up some 8% more of our total budget than it was 5 years ago.
- I said earlier that the people of ANARE have two things in common: an adventurous spirit and a willingness to serve Australia. There's another attribute they have in great abundance, and that is a command of the photographic medium of a rare order. These wonderful pictures which you see around you are a testament to the visual artistry of our Antarctic expeditioners.
- This year, being the Jubilee year, it is fitting that the Antarctic Division has included a special selection of historical photographs to show the magnificent photographs taken at our very first landing on the Southern Ocean islands some fifty years ago.
- You will also see in the photographs, the huts constructed by Sir Douglas Mawson during his 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition to the great Continent. These huts remain a very significant part of Australia's Antarctic heritage, in fact our nation's heritage, and in recognising their importance the Government announced in the Budget this week a $250,000 donation to assist the AAP Mawson's Hut Foundation to undertake conservation works on those huts.
- We are indeed very fortunate that the AAP Mawson's Hut Foundation set up, obviously enough by AAP, has taken on this role of preserving and repairing one important part of Australia's heritage.
- This year Ladies and Gentlemen as well the Division has prepared a series of panels highlighting the history of ANARE.
- And all of the pictorial treasures demonstrate the wealth of material that the Australian Antarctic Division has on the uniqueness of Antarctica. The Government is exploring ways of making this material more easily available to the Australian public.
- But for those of us who are able to visit Parliament House in the four weeks of this Exhibition and have the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful array of visual impact, we are indeed very, very fortunate.
- My thanks and yours must go to the Australian Antarctic Division and Phil Wood in particular, the Parliament House staff and especially all the photographers who over the years or over the last almost 100 years have taken the photographs that make this Exhibition possible.
- Ladies and Gentlemen it is with great pleasure and pride in Australia's achievement that I now declare open the 1997 ANARE Jubilee Photographic Exhibition.