Mr PASIN (Barker) (10:09): I rise today to speak about the new, world-leading Antarctic icebreaker that will replace the ageing Aurora Australis. The government is investing $1.9 billion to design, build and operate the icebreaker over 30 years. This is the biggest single investment in the history of Australia’s Antarctic Program. This icebreaker will enable us to cross thousands of kilometres of the world’s stormiest seas, to navigate through the ice barrier, and will allow researchers to live and work for extended periods on the world’s coldest, driest and windiest continent. While this new, custom-built icebreaker is not expected to arrive in Australia to its home port of Hobart until mid-2020, the task of deciding a name for the ship is well underway. The ‘Name our Icebreaker’ competition opened for entries in May this year. The competition invites students in years 5 to 8 across Australia to submit suggestions for the name of this important vessel.
A number of schools in Penola, in my electorate of Barker, are leading the charge to name the ship the John Riddoch Rymill. Penola is the birthplace of Antarctic explorer, John Riddoch Rymill. Born in the homestead on Penola Station in 1905, it was Rymill’s ambition from an early age to become a polar explorer. He studied surveying and navigation at the Royal Geographical Society in London; skiing and mountaineering in Switzerland; and sailing in Essex. He went on to study nutrition and cooking in Cambridge, and bookkeeping and anthropology in London, before learning how to fly in Middlesex. He began his first polar exploration as a surveyor and pilot on an Antarctic expedition in 1930. Four years later, in a schooner named the Penola after his birthplace, Rymill set about establishing bases along Graham Land on the west coast. Through this expedition, with an amateur crew, Rymill proved that Graham Land was an extension of the Antarctic continent. Rymill’s logistics were innovative. His ground team used huskies to sled over sea ice, supported by air patrols. He also used a motor launch to probe ahead and plot a course for the Penola. The Penola itself deserves considerable mention: the ship covered more than 43,000 kilometres, and did this mostly under sail and through some of the most treacherous waters on earth. This was no mean feat. Rymill is credited with contributing the largest and most accurate surveys of Antarctica of his time, despite his expedition being largely self-funded and operating on one of the most modest budgets for expeditions of its size and duration.
The legacy of John Riddoch Rymill is truly one that must be acknowledged. I would like to think that the new icebreaker will see its crew through some equally groundbreaking research—just as Rymill did almost a century before—and how fitting it would be if this vessel was named the John Riddoch Rymill