Cuts to Bureau of Meteorology - Senate Adjournment Speech

Tuesday 11 September

I rise tonight to raise some very concerning issues for all Tasmanians, whom I continue to represent, and proudly so.

I want to make it crystal clear that any decision by the Bureau of Meteorology to cut jobs in Tasmania and across Australia will have terrible and long-lasting consequences. Removing local weather forecasters and centralising forecasting services on the mainland will mean that the nuance of expert local knowledge will be lost. These cuts are designed to refocus bureau staff's attention on major commercial airplane routes at the expense of providing local weather forecasts to regional flights. Yet it is these regional flights that are most at risk of catastrophe if an accurate local weather prediction cannot be provided. We're talking about helicopters and small planes that rely on the Bureau of Meteorology to give them that accurate local weather prediction.

There are also well-founded fears of a lack of local expertise that will put people and firefighters at high risk during the bushfire season. Tasmania, like many other regional parts of Australia, has a terrible history of bushfires and we know that precise forecasting is crucial to ensuring that people can make informed decisions in an emergency.

Many Tasmanian bureau staff members have expressed their concern to me that at the heart of this change is an attempt to commercialise the Bureau of Meteorology. They believe that, rather than providing a critical service to all Australians, this move enables the bureau to take a step towards providing private consultation to companies and government departments for profit. Of course, this is because their budget has been cut by this coalition government. This Morrison government now needs to stop these atrocious cuts and to take steps to protect the jobs of meteorological staff in Tasmania and in regional Australia for the safety of all Australians.