Senator The Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
FEDERAL BUDGET 2001-2002
EMBARGO: 8.00PM 22 MAY 2001
"The Howard Government's 6th Budget will enable the Bureau of Meteorology to continue to improve its operations and services, particularly its services to rural and regional Australia," Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone said today.
"The Howard Government has maintained its commitment to 'world class weather forecasting' allocating $212.5 million in the Budget to the Bureau," Sharman Stone said.
"The Bureau will be able to build on its ability to provide timely and accurate, location specific weather forecasting based on the successful demonstration project carried out during the Sydney Olympic Games.
"It will also replace a number of ageing observing facilities and systems around Australia and upgrade its climate data archives, making its data and services more readily accessible to the community, via the Bureau's website and other technologies."
Sharman Stone said the Bureau will also be able to proceed with number of important initiatives that will help to ensure the future quality of meteorological services in Australia.
These initiatives include:
- Installing a new state of the art weather watch radar in Bowen to cover a gap in the existing weather watch radar coverage along the Queensland coast, and provide vital information for tracking tropical cyclones as well as enhancing local weather forecasting.
- Installing a new weather watch radar at Yarrawonga, Victoria, to cover a gap in the current radar network over this important agricultural area. The data from the radar will assist in improving flood and severe weather warning services.
- Constructing a new observing office at Adelaide Airport, SA, to replace the existing sub-standard building. The new building will contain state of the art systems for surface and upper air meteorological observations in support of public weather services and aviation.
- Building a new observing office at Cobar, NSW, to replace the old office. It will ensure the continuation of the upper air and surface meteorological observations at this important remote site and provide meteorological information services to the local community.
- Establishing a new meteorological office on the Williamtown RAAF base, NSW, to provide improved services specifically to the Air Force. It will also allow the Bureau to maintain one of the longest upper air observation records in Australia and provide important data for public weather forecasting and for climate purposes.
- Constructing a new meteorological office on Norfolk Island. It will replace an old building which is no longer suitable for its purpose. The new facility will ensure the continuation of surface and upper air meteorological observations from this important remote island location and will provide meteorological services to the local community including the vital aviation links with the Australian continent.
- Tendering for a replacement of its obsolete radio-sonde ground stations throughout its Australia-wide network. The new system will enable the Bureau to collect high quality upper air temperature, humidity and pressure observations vital to the national forecast and warning services.
- Implementing a meteorological archive retrieval system, aimed at managing the Bureau's huge volume of data more efficiently and ultimately making its historical radar, satellite and numerical weather prediction information available online to forecasters, researchers and the general public.
- Developing a new improved nation-wide Telephone Weather Service (TWS) based on a state of the art text to speech system. In addition to the tropical cyclone warning service currently available on 1300 numbers for the cost of a local call, the new TWS will include warnings for other types of severe weather such as severe thunderstorms, severe wind squalls, flash flooding, river flood warnings and marine warnings.
"When the Howard Government came to office in 1996, we made a commitment to maintaining and improving what is already one of the world's best meteorological services," Sharman Stone said.
"The funds provided through this Budget will ensure that we continue to provide accurate and reliable weather forecasting for all Australians, wherever they live."
Simon Frost (02) 62777 2016 or 0419 495 468