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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

20 February 2004

New met Shop Front Information Service for Launceston

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been pleased to hear from a variety of user groups; farmers, fishers along with the residents of Launceston and other north coast cities and town concerning the value of the service provided by the Launceston Office.

Because the new, automated systems will deliver a far superior data stream in terms of frequency and availability of data to those that are now available the Australian Bureau of Meteorology will cease its manual observation program at the Launceston airport when they have been commissioned. This is currently expected to occur in mid-May 2004.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, said that against this background, and in response to the high levels of appreciation of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's public weather service, we have been considering the nature of public weather service provision and related staffing arrangements in Launceston.

"Noting that the current Bureau accommodation is fundamentally inappropriate for an office providing public weather services, and in response to the keen community demand for continued access to forecasters located in the Tasmanian north coast, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology will open its first 'shop front' Meteorological Information Office in the Launceston commercial precinct," Dr Stone said.

"This exciting initiative will be a first of a kind in Australia.

"The forecaster operating the office will prepare the Launceston city forecast and contribute to the forecasts for the north coast that originate from Hobart.

"He or she will participate in live media crosses to local radio stations and generally provide an interface between the north coast media and the Bureau.

"The office will contain displays highlighting the Australian Bureau of Meteorology services and serve as a place where school groups and the like can learn more about meteorology and access the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's data and products," Dr Stone said.

The office will initially be staff by the two officers.

"As this is an experiment in extending the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's services into the community we will closely monitor the level and type of services sought to ensure the most appropriate level and type of staff required at the Launceston 'shop front'," Dr Stone said.

"This is a bold new program for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

"We need community support for this 'shop front' concept, and if it's a success likely to be replicated around Australia.

Senator Guy Barnett, who was instrumental in communicating the public's disappointment in losing any staff welcomed the decision.

Commonwealth of Australia