About this record
This is the statement made to the Australian Parliament on 21 February 1929 by Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce on a proposed Australian expedition to the Antarctic. The statement outlines details of Australia’s collaboration with Britain and New Zealand to mount this expedition. Prime Minister Bruce also refers to the potential benefits that his government anticipates for Australia from a successful expedition.
- The British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expeditions (BANZARE) took place during the Antarctic summers of 1929–30 and 1930–31. The primary focus of BANZARE was scientific and territorial, including a hydrography survey of the Antarctic coast; weather observations; and collecting biology specimens. The expedition also aimed to report on the economic possibilities of the Antarctic region.
- Following Britain’s earlier assertion of claims in Antarctica, the 1926 Imperial Conference suggested that the British Empire formally claim Antarctic territory from 160° E to 45° E and place it under Australian control. Britain was concerned about the territorial ambitions of France and Norway and it proposed that all members of the Empire should adopt a proactive approach.
- The Australian scientific community was concerned that the work of the 1911–14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) had not been recognised. The Australian National Research Council argued that this expedition had already taken possession of the territory between 160° E and 90° E. It increased pressure on the Australian Government to formalise its territorial claims in Antarctica.
- By 1928, Norway was undertaking extensive whaling activities in the Antarctic and there were rumours that Norway was planning an Antarctic expedition. An American polar aviator, Richard Byrd, had also announced plans to fly over Antarctica. These developments led to increased pressure on the Australian Government and on 21 February 1929 Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce announced that an Antarctic expedition was proposed for the 1929–30 summer.
- Sir Douglas Mawson was commissioned to lead the British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expeditions (BANZARE). The British Government agreed to supply the Antarctic ship Discovery to the expedition, free of charge. The New Zealand Government committed scientific staff and funds to the expedition.
- Two voyages were planned: one in the 1929–30 Antarctic summer and one in the 1930–31 summer. The focus of the first would be charting and claiming Enderby Land as far as 45° E—which put the expedition in direct competition with a private expedition proposed by Norwegian aviator and explorer Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen. The second voyage would revisit the coastline explored by the AAE, filling unchartered gaps from 145° E.
- BANZARE successfully charted over 2000 miles of unexplored coastline. Bad weather and heavy pack ice made landfall difficult. On 13 January 1930, the first landing of the two voyages was made at Proclamation Island at 53° E. British sovereignty was claimed over Kemp Land, Enderby Land and the newly-named Mac.Robertson Land. During the second voyage, 3 more coastal landings were made between Proclamation Island and Cape Denison.
- In 1933, following a British imperial order, the Australian Parliament passed the Australian Antarctic Territories Act. It was six years later that Australia and France agreed on the boundaries of Adélie Land from 136° E to 145° E and Norway agreed to recognise the Australian Antarctic Territory. Seeking to consolidate its claim, the Australian Government provided funds for the publication of the scientific reports of the AAE and BANZARE and the first comprehensive map of Antarctica.