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

23 March 2006

World Meteorological Day 2006 - Preventing and Mitigating Natural Disasters

The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology today celebrated World Meteorological Day at the Bureau of Meteorology's new Melbourne Headquarters. Mr Hunt congratulated the Bureau for the role they play in the Australian community in 'Preventing and Mitigating Natural Disasters' - this year's theme of World Meteorological Day.

"Preventing and Mitigating Natural Disasters is the worldwide theme of World Meteorological Day and all 187 Members of the World Meteorological Organization celebrating World Meteorological Day will today be reflecting upon the vital role Meteorological agencies play in assisting communities.

"Disaster mitigation is central to Bureau operations, as around 90 per cent of natural disasters are of meteorological, hydrological or oceanic origin, and the effects and impacts of all disasters are moderated by weather," Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt said the Australian Bureau of Meteorology was considered one of the best in the world at developing partnerships to prevent loss of life and property during severe weather conditions.

"The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, with the headquarters here in Melbourne, have effective partnerships with state emergency service agencies, state water and electricity agencies, local government and Federal government that ensures communities are forewarned and prepared for extreme weather events."

"For example, meteorologists take the 'cyclone preparedness' message to all major cities and towns on Australia's northern coastline ahead of each tropical cyclone season, participate in the work of flood plain management committees and work closely with authorities that deal with bushfires."

"The Bureau has hosted many international weather agency delegations in recent years to showcase such community education campaigns and to advise on how to form working partnerships with associated agencies to mitigate the impact of natural disasters," Mr Hunt said.

Natural disasters worldwide from 1992-2001 were linked to more than 620,000 deaths and affected over 2 billion people. Flood and other water-related disasters over the same period resulted in economic losses of an estimated US$446 billion.

Brig. Gen. D.L. Johnson USAF (retd), Director of the US National Weather Service, will give the World Meteorological Day Address (Preventing and Mitigating Natural Disasters) at the Bureau of Meteorology Head Office, 700 Collins St., Melbourne from 11am, March 23.

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

Commonwealth of Australia