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

10 May 2005

A quarter of Australia’s field weather offices to be replaced

Mr Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology, today announced funding of $19.8 million over six years to help rebuild 12 of the Bureau's 50 field meteorological offices.

"This new funding in the 2005-06 Budget demonstrates the Australian Government's commitment to delivering quality meteorological services to communities across Australia," Mr Hunt said.

"It complements the current five year, $62 million technological upgrade of the national weather service including 6 Doppler radars, 15 new weather watch radars and automatic weather stations.

"The oldest of the offices to be replaced is Willis Island, located in an especially severe environment in the Coral Sea. The office was built in 1950 and is a vital element in the tropical cyclone warning system.

"The average age of offices to be replaced is 40 years and many of these offices are located in harsh climates and in exposed places.

"Field offices are vital components of the Bureau's surface and atmosphere observations and service delivery network. They issue essential warning services and also feed data into the Global Observing System for monitoring weather and climate worldwide.

"Most operate weather-watch radars, which provide the most heavily accessed information on the Bureau's website, and monitor the upper atmosphere by radar-tracked weather balloons."

Offices to be replaced include: Willis Island, Longreach and Charleville in Queensland; Sydney Airport in New South Wales; Ceduna in South Australia; and Albany, Carnarvon, Geraldton, Broome, Halls Creek, Esperance and Port Hedland in Western Australia.

The Bureau will combine $14.2 million of existing funding with the additional Budget funding to rebuild these offices.

Field meteorological staff are full-time meteorological observers. Offices in rural and remote Australia are also valuable outlets for information on Bureau services. Staff provide local weather advice important to regional activities, and many are well-known from daily ‘live crosses' to local radio stations. Many offices also host visits from schools, community groups and the public.

Media enquiries:
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045

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