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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders

17 May 2006

Pacific wide Tsunami simulation tests region's emergency response measures


The Hon Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage said today that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is taking a lead role in Exercise Pacific Wave 2006 - a simulated Pacific wide Tsunami to test the current Pacific Tsunami Warning System.

The simulated exercise is scheduled to take place today.

"Scientists in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre in Melbourne and its regional offices in Hobart, Sydney, and Brisbane will be jointly conducting the exercise in conjunction with Emergency Management Australia, Geoscience Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"They will be monitoring a simulated tsunami generated off South America to reach Australia's east coast."

"The simulation will be carried out in two stages, beginning with a mock tsunami warning bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii on 16 May (17 May in the South-West Pacific).

"The bulletin will then be transmitted to designated contact points and national emergency authorities responsible for tsunami response in each country.

"The second stage of the exercise, also scheduled for today, will test the emergency management communication skills of the particular government agencies of each country by giving them the opportunity to disseminate the warning message."

"When countries receive a Tsunami Warning it is critical that their emergency management and crisis situation agencies are able to direct the message appropriately."

"It is one thing to have a state of the art Tsunami Warning System, but if countries are not practiced in emergency communication procedures the System in not as effective as it could be."

"We hope this exercise contributes to the overall effectiveness of the Pacific Tsunami Warning System partnership by allowing countries to effect such emergency practices in a test situation."

Mr Hunt said the Tsunami simulation followed an international meeting of 70 Pacific Ocean Tsunami Warning experts in Melbourne earlier this month.

"The meeting in Melbourne hosted 11 Pacific Nations that were currently not a part of the Pacific Tsunami Warning System Partnership with the aim of encouraging those nations to join the partnership to improve Tsunami forewarning in the region."

"The Australian Government strongly encourages these nations to join the Pacific Tsunami Warning System.

"We will do all that we can to help prepare, train and develop appropriate skills and protection mechanisms to assist the Pacific Islands to be part of a full Pacific Tsunami Warning System."

"Both the international Tsunami conference and Pacific Wave 2006 are sponsored by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), which is seeking to enhance the Pacific regions capacity to receive and respond to formal tsunami alerts," Mr Hunt said.

The Pacific Nations encouraged to join the Pacific Tsunami Warning System are:

Media Contact:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's Office) 0415 740 722

Commonwealth of Australia