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Joint Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Greg Hunt MP
Federal Member for Kalgoorlie
Barry Haase MP

12 April 2005

Port Hedland radar upgraded to continue its vital weather watch role

Mr Barry Haase MP, Federal Member for Kalgoorlie today officially commissioned a new weather-watch surveillance radar at Port Hedland Airport in Western Australia.

Mr Haase said the new radar will provide a more reliable capability for monitoring severe weather, including tropical cyclones and thunderstorms.

"The radar has coverage of around 250 kilometres and will provide meteorologists with detailed imagery showing the intensity, location and movement of rainfall and enable them to closely monitor weather patterns and detect conditions that indicate severe weather events," Mr Haase said.

"It will give local weather services a boost and will be vital for the community in providing quality tropical cyclone warning services to the region, in particular the Pilbara which ranks among the most cyclone-prone areas in the world.

"The new radar will also be a significant benefit to the important industrial and port infrastructure of Port Hedland which ships millions of dollars of iron ore and salt exports each year."

Mr Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary with Ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, said the new Port Hedland radar was part of a $62 million federal government commitment over five years to upgrade the Bureau's national radar network with state-of-the-art technology.

"This is the second unit funded in Western Australia under this upgrade that includes the installation of 15 new radars to replace older units and the upgrade of a further six radars to ‘Doppler' capability over the next five years," Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt acknowledged the work Mr Haase had done to ensure the Kalgoorlie electorate had access to modern meteorological services including more accurate information about severe weather conditions.

"The new Port Hedland radar demonstrates the federal Government's commitment to providing quality meteorological services to rural and regional Australia and I commend Barry Haase on his ongoing support and push for the delivery of these services to the people of his electorate," Mr Hunt said.

The TVDR2500 radar replaces an ageing WF44 unit originally commissioned in July 1967. The WF44, which successfully tracked tropical cyclone Joan that severely damaged Port Hedland in December 1975, remained reliable right up to the very end of its working life and was still able to track tropical cyclone Fay effectively as it made landfall between Pardoo and Wallal last year.

Images from the new radar are available at www.bom.gov.au

Media Contact:
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045
Frances Pratt (08) 9021 2035 (Mr Haase's office)

© Commonwealth of Australia