Conservation work program approved

Mawson's Huts are on Commonwealth land, requiring the expedition to observe relevant Commonwealth laws including the Antarctic Treaty Environment Protection Act 1980 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. In accordance with the EPBC Act, the expedition Works Plan was referred to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage to decide whether a proposed action is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance. Public comment about the AAD's referral was also taken into account by the Minister. On October 11 the Minister formally approved the program of conservation works.

The historical value of Mawson's Huts means that the site is also entered on the Register of the National Estate, maintained by the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC). As a Commonwealth agency, the AAD was obliged to seek advice under section 30 of the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975 and will take the AHC's advice into account during the conduct of the works.

The conservation program is also consistent with Australia's international obligations under the Antarctic Treaty and the Madrid Protocol. Under Annex V of the Madrid Protocol, the AAD has responsibility to ensure that the structure shall'not be damaged, removed or destroyed'(Annex V, Article 8, Clause 4). The aim of the conservation project is to prevent this damage from occurring. The AAD is also planning to nominate the site as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area under Annex V in order to secure more comprehensive protection for this site of outstanding historic significance. The nomination will put forward at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, in Madrid in 2003.