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Media Release
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

6 December 2006

New Tsunami alert system for Australia

A new Tsunami alert system tailored for Australia and Australian conditions will commence operations from tomorrow (Thursday 7 December).

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, said the Bureau of Meteorology would deliver warnings and advice on possible tsunami activity in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Mr Hunt said the Bureau had previously passed on advice from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii and the Japan Meteorological Agency in Tokyo to Australian authorities.

"Now the Bureau will interpret intelligence received from these centres and provide Australian-specific tsunami bulletins to State and Territory emergency services and media," Mr Hunt said.

"When a major earthquake is detected in our region, the Bureau of Meteorology's National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre, based in Melbourne, will work with Geoscience Australia to interpret the information and issue an initial bulletin through the Bureau's national weather communication network."

A No Threat Bulletin will advise that an undersea earthquake has been detected but has not generated a tsunami OR that a tsunami has been detected but has no potential impact on Australia and/or its islands and territories. No further bulletins will be issued unless the situation changes.

A Potential Threat Bulletin will be issued if a tsunami has been detected and it may potentially impact on Australia and/or its islands and territories. Once the Bureau of Meteorology has qualified the information it has received, it may issue follow up warnings providing further advice on the threat. These warnings would remain valid until a cancellation bulletin is issued.

A Cancellation Bulletin cancels a previous Potential Threat bulletin. It may be released to inform relevant parties that the threat has ended and a tsunami has not impacted on Australia's coast, or that the impact of a tsunami on the Australian coast has ended.

"We anticipate in the order of a dozen bulletins being issued each year, with the majority being No Threat to Australia," Mr Hunt said.

"The new system will help emergency service and the media to quickly receive and understand any risk to coastal areas from earthquakes in our region."

The bulletins are being issued under the existing Australian Tsunami Alert System. The Australian Government is investing nearly $70 million to develop a comprehensive national tsunami warning system, following the devastating tsunami which hit the region on 26 December 2004.

Media contact:
John Deller (Mr Hunt's office) on 0400 496 596

Commonwealth of Australia