Each AAE member was required to sign a contract of employment, made out between the individual (the ‘Member of Staff’) and Mawson (the ‘Commander’) – with no reference to either the original organising group, the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, or the Australian government.
The ‘Staff Agreement’ ensured virtually total control by Mawson over any outcome from the expedition. In clause eight, all collections of any sort were to be ‘the property of the Expedition’, while all photographs taken during the AAE, official and private, would belong to ‘the Commander’.
See the Staff Agreement for Members of the AAE [PDF]. © Mitchell Collection, State Library of New South Wales.
Under clause nine, on the AAE’s return each staff member would ‘prepare his notes for publication and deliver them to the Commander within a reasonable time’.
Shackleton (previously a merchant seaman) had delegated control of the scientific program of the British Antarctic Expedition to Edgeworth David. In contrast, Mawson the scientist would be both commander and chief scientist of the AAE.