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Joint Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
Greg Hunt MP
Federal Member for Leichhardt
Warren Entsch MP
Federal Member for Herbert
Peter Lindsay MP

16 September 2005

Work begins on weather office at Willis Island

Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Warren Entsch, Federal Member for Leichhardt and Peter Lindsay, Federal Member for Herbert, today announced that construction of a new meteorological field office on Willis Island will begin in early October.

"This is an investment of over $8 million in one of the Bureau's most important field offices. It will involve the redevelopment of the field office and the replacement of key meteorological equipment including a weather watch radar and balloon launching facilities," Mr Hunt said.

"This fulfils an Australian Government commitment to rebuild the Willis Island field office as part of the Howard Government's $19.8 million 2005/06 Budget boost for the rebuilding of 12 Bureau field offices over the next six years."

Mr Hunt thanked Mr Entsch and Mr Lindsay for their push for the new field office on Willis Island and the ongoing delivery of quality meteorological services for the coastal communities of North Queensland.

Mr Entsch and Mr Lindsay said Willis Island was highly valued for its contribution to routine weather forecasting and tropical cyclone warning services.

"Willis Island is located approximately 450 kilometres east of Cairns in the Coral Sea and for more than 80 years it has recorded the unique climatological history of the Western Pacific and Coral Sea region," Mr Entsch said.

"This data, which includes surface and upper atmosphere observations and forecasting data, supports the Bureau's national operations and severe weather warning services."

"It has provided an important front-line warning capability for tropical cyclones approaching North East Queensland and has been particularly valuable for coastal communities," Mr Lindsay said.

"It has also played a significant role in the monitoring and detection of changing weather patterns in the region and contributed to a better understanding of climate change both regionally and internationally."

Work is expected to be fully complete by March 2006 with some elements operational by the end of 2005.

Media enquiries:
Fiona Murphy 0423 577 045 (Mr Hunt's office)
Sarah Massey 0427 737 203 (Mr Entsch's office)
Niki Lyons 0418 762 307 (Mr Lindsay's office)

Commonwealth of Australia