575 Burton to Shedden

Memorandum CANBERRA, 15 May 1947



With reference to my memorandum of 27th March, 1947, and your reply of 8th May, 1947, the question of the annexation by Australia of Heard Island has been carefully considered in the light of the views you have expressed and of those of other Departments concerned.

2. While it is appreciated that the value of Heard Island from a strategical point of view would not warrant its annexation, other considerations have influenced a decision to take the necessary steps to send a mission there as part of Antarctic Exploration plans. The Executive Planning Committee for the Australian Antarctic Expedition considers that from a scientific point of view, it is important for Australia to have available a possible site for the establishment of a meteorological station in this region. [1] In addition, it is felt that, while Heard Island does not at present appear capable of use as a staging point for air navigation, technical developments in the future may make its employment practicable. [2]

3. At a recent meeting [3] in Canberra, the Executive Planning Committee has therefore decided, as part of the programme of scientific work to be carried out during the Summer, to send small scientific parties to Macquarie and Heard Islands to cover as wide a range of meteorological observation as possible. Winter parties, consisting of about six men, are to be left at each island base.

Hitherto, a proper survey of Heard Island has been lacking and it will now be possible to undertake this work. At the time of landing at Heard Island, a formal act of annexation may be executed.

4. Similar memoranda have been addressed to- Department of the Navy " Air " Civil Aviation Council for Scientific & Industrial Research

1 In a letter dated 11 April, CSIR supported establishment of a meteorological station, on the basis of a recommendation from a regional meeting of the International Meteorological Office, held in Melbourne, that it would be in the interests of countries in the Southern Hemisphere to receive regular reports from points further south.

2 The Department of Civil Aviation advised, on 18 April, that while no present advantages were apparent for air navigation, Heard Island should be annexed against the possibility of unforseen technical advances.

3 On 12 May.

[AA : A1068, A47/26/11]