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Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministers
for the Environment, Sport, Territories
and Local Government

Budget Addresses Bureau Neglect

20 August 1996

The Howard Government has provided $4.6 million in additional funding in the 1996-97 Federal Budget to address the rundown of the Bureau of Meteorology.

"This Budget will address the failure of the previous Government to maintain an effective and efficient national weather service," Senator Ian Campbell, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology said today.

"The Howard Government has accepted the findings of the Slatyer Report, which suggests that the Bureau is in desperate need of capital investment following years of financial neglect and mismanagement by the previous Government," Senator Campbell said.

The Slatyer Report is an independent review of the Bureau of Meteorology and the services it provides.

It was undertaken by a Committee chaired by Professor Ralph Slatyer AC FRS FAA FTSE, distinguished scholar in residence at the Australian National University and former Chief Scientist in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

"I am pleased to announce that this Government will restore the vital operations of the Bureau to benchmark levels and upgrade its services to the community."

"This will be achieved through the provision of an additional $4.6 million per annum for the basic operations of the Bureau including the restoration of its networks and the provision of improved climate services."

"The Bureau will also reprioritise its capital assets with a view to improving and upgrading its services."

"The Government accepts the basic conclusions of the Slatyer Report in respect of the future operation of the Bureau. I have also asked Professor Slatyer to lead a follow-up study of the scope for increased cost recovery and/or commercialisation of specialised services provided to individual users and major identifiable user groups."

"Any increased cost recovery or commercialisation initiatives which result from the new study should be viewed only as potential tools to help achieve our goal of rebuilding the highest quality weather and climate data collection, processing and interpretation and ensuring the community receives the most reliable and most useful meteorological services possible," Senator Campbell said.

"This will not impact on the Bureau's important public services which will continue to be provided free of charge to the community through the media."

"Contrary to the persistent speculation in the media, the Bureau will not have to retrench any staff during the year. Indeed, the Bureau will be in a position to take on a number of new trainees."

"The Slatyer Report stressed the vital importance of the Bureau to rural Australia and the Government will ensure that the Bureau continues to perform its essential functions as efficiently and effectively as modern science and technology will permit."

"Australia benefits enormously from our free and unrestricted access to meteorological data, especially weather satellite data, from other countries and we are also determined not to impair this unique system of international cooperation," Senator Campbell said.

"I believe that, with the restoration that will be possible with the funding provided to the Bureau through the Budget, and the Government's reaffirmation of the Bureau's core responsibility for providing a first-rate service to the community at large through the media, we are well on the way to providing a model for the future development of meteorological services in other countries."

The Bureau has been appropriated a total of $156.0 million for 1996-97 including the $4.6 million of new funding and an additional $2.0 million which will be released from sale and better use of existing assets.

The Bureau will also recover $23.5 million of its total cost of operation from special user groups such as aviation and defence. The additional $6.6 million which will be available to respond to the Slatyer Report recommendations will be used, inter alia, to:

For further information, please contact:

Commonwealth of Australia