Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Question without notice - Parliament House

10 October 2012

CRAIG THOMSON (MEMBER FOR DOBELL): Just a few days ago on the Central Coast of New South Wales we experienced an early onset of the fire season, and again we saw properties under threat by large bush fires. Yet, the official warnings for dangerous fire conditions and extreme weather come under the Hunter, a separate region from ours. Despite improvements in town forecasts, regional central coast forecasts and warmings don't exist. Minister, when will the Bureau of Meteorology treat the Central Coast as a region in its own right, with its own weather forecasts, warnings and observations?

TONY BURKE (MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT): Thank you very much Speaker and I thank the member for Dobell for the question.

Particularly when it comes to issues of national disasters there is a very high degree of sensitivity of trying to make sure that the information offered by the Bureau of Meteorology is as localised as possible and I can understand why that's a view that's very strongly held in the Central Coast and particularly after the recent early onset of the fire season.

I should note in terms of weather forecasts themselves, they are provided on a very local basis. The Bureau for example on the Central Coast I think you will find it's Norah Head, Gosford and I think Mangrove Mountain, they provide for seven day weather forecasts on those regions.

But the regional forecasts themselves are tied to State Government fire districts as I understand it. Now at the moment, I think the Central Coast you will find is tied in with the Hunter region and I wouldn't want us to depart from us having a consistency of how the Bureau operates and how the emergency services themselves are seeking to operate.

That said, I'm very happy to ask the Parliamentary Secretary in the other place who has responsibility for the issue to raise this directly with both the Bureau and the New South Wales authorities.

The people of the Central Coast understandably want those warnings to give them the most timely way and the most localised way and many of them would regard, quite rightly, the Hunter as being a long way from home whether you are living in The Entrance or Terrigal.

I will ask the Parliament Secretary to follow through with that action and report back directly to the Member for Dobell.