Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Review of the Bureau of Meteorology's capacity

Media release
8 June 2012
DF12/030

The Australian Government has released the independent review of the Bureau of Meteorology's capacity to respond to future extreme weather and natural disaster events and to provide seasonal forecasting services.

Senator Don Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, announced the review last year, in light of the increase of extreme weather events – including floods, tropical cyclones, bushfires and volcanic ash incidents – of summer 2010-11.

The review was led by Ms Chloe Munro, who brought strong commercial skills along with expertise in public policy and corporate finance through her senior leadership experience in the public and private sectors, both in Australia and overseas.

"The review found that the Bureau is highly respected across the community, and that its dedicated staff are committed to the provision of its vital services," Senator Farrell said.

"It also identified an increasing demand and desire for enhanced products and services from the Bureau, and noted the challenges the Bureau faces in managing the demands on frontline staff. These are particularly acute during protracted severe weather events.

"As part of the 2012-13 Budget, the government has made an initial response to the highest priority recommendations by announcing it would strengthen the Bureau's frontline capacity by up to 40 staff, acknowledging the vital services these staff provide."

The Budget measures involve funding for the employment of up to 20 expert meteorologists, along with recruitment and training of up to 10 new local meteorologists and 10 additional flood forecasters.

As identified in the review, the Bureau will also commence a one year trial to host advertising on its website, with any revenue raised contributing to offsetting the measures announced in the Budget.
Strict guidelines for what can be advertised on the Bureau's website will be made publicly available at the commencement of the trial. At the end of the trial the government will make an assessment as to whether advertising will continue.

"The review identified a number of options to improve the Bureau's ongoing sustainability.  The Bureau is already investigating these options, and where possible has started taking action to implement improvements" Senator Farrell said.

The Bureau is building its ongoing organisational resilience through the development of nationally consistent service standards, and implementing its workforce planning strategy. It is also continuing its programme of automating many of its processes for taking meteorological and other observations.

The review made recommendations involving the need to improve the arrangements for flood monitoring, forecasting and warning across Australia. It also identified opportunities to extend the Bureau's services, such as improved seasonal forecasting capability.

"As acknowledged by the review, responding to these broader strategic issues will take some time and will require the support, either individually or collectively, of Commonwealth, state and local governments," Senator Farrell said.

"Over the coming months, the review's findings will be considered in detail by government to determine the most appropriate way forward.

"This will ensure proper consideration of the review's suite of recommendations and will assist the government to take into account the Bureau's long-term needs and requirements.

"The government is committed to responding to the review's findings to ensure that Australia has a strong and sustainable meteorological service into the future."

The review report can be found at: www.environment.gov.au/about/bom/