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Senator Ian Campbell
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministers for the Environment, Sport, Territories, and Local Government
24 April 1996
A review commissioned by the previous Federal government has revealed "a significant deterioration" in the quality and reliability of the operations of the Meteorological Bureau in the last five years under Labor.
Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for the Bureau, Senator Ian Campbell, released the report today.
He said it showed the previous government had an appalling disregard for the Bureau's operations.
"The reality is that the last government allowed the Bureau's operations to wind down to an alarming degree," Senator Campbell said.
"That negligence may have put lives at risk and certainly would have an impact on the ability of Australia's rural sector to respond to drought.
"The report found a decline in services and an inability to keep pace with user demands.
"The Bureau achieved significant efficiency savings in the last five years but not enough to offset those trends."
Senator Campbell said the Bureau was even forced to borrow $3.4m against its 1996- 97 budget appropriation just to pay its wages.
"Some remote weather monitoring stations that required maintenance checks every six months had been left untouched for six years," Senator Campbell said.
"In 1991, Bureau- staffed observation stations across Australia were delivering 95% of essential upper air temperature and humidity observations at night time, but four years later that figure had slipped to 35%.
Senator Campbell said the review was commissioned by Labor in June last year and was headed by distinguished scholar in residence at the ANU, Professor Ralph Slatyer.
"Professor Slatyer and his team are to be congratulated on the thoroughness of their review," he said.
"Meteorological Bureau staff too should be commended for managing to provide the standards of service that they have in the face of the last government's failures."
Senator Campbell said he would consider the review's findings in detail before making any decisions.
Media Information: Craig Regan, 0414 282 706 (M)