University of Tasmania
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Was Australian Antarctica Won Fairly?

posted on 2023-05-26, 05:31 authored by Barrett, ND
The Winning of Australian Antarctica (A. Grenfell Price) described the Douglas Mawson led British Australian New Zealand Research Expedition (BANZARE) and the contest to claim Antarctic territory ahead of Norway. Norwegian versions of this contest, by Bjarne Aagaard and Hans Bogen, were critical of Mawson and Australia's claim to a sector of Antarctica west to 45o E. By investigating the historical drivers that led Norway and Britain to the contest, this thesis establishes, through the consideration of official documents, the reasons for it and whether or not Australian Antarctica was won fairly. Norway's inexperience in diplomacy and foreign affairs, after gaining independence from Sweden in 1905, alerted Britain to the value of whaling in the Antarctic region and resulted in Britain annexing territory to create the Falkland Islands Dependencies and the Ross Dependency. As he was restricted by British whaling regulations, the Norwegian whaling magnate Lars Christensen sought territory free of British control. This led to Norway claiming Bouvet Island which the British believed was theirs. Britain, with the stated desire to include the whole of Antarctica in the British Empire, formulated processes to achieve this in Eastern Antarctica at the 1926 Imperial Conference in London. The process was specifically developed to thwart attempts by other nations to claim the same territory. This was achieved by omitting vital geographic coordinates from the published conference summary, an omission that favoured the BANZARE in proclaiming territory from 45o E to 160o E for Britain. To remove a possible Norwegian challenge for the territory, Britain agreed to relinquish its claim to Bouvet Island in return for Norwegian recognition of British hegemony in Antarctica.


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