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Wednesday, 12 February 1986
Page: 174


Senator WATSON —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Science. What does the Government propose to do about the serious and potentially life-threatening inadequacies of the Australian weather forecasting system? Does the Minister agree with the long time director of the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology, Mr Arch Shields, that Australia is placing far too much emphasis on satellites, computers and automatic weather stations, all of which can and do malfunction, for its weather forecasting, virtually ignoring the vital role played by trained weather observers on the ground? Is the Government concerned that too many forecasts are now being issued with the rider `meteorologists warn that this forecast is based on inadequate information'?


Senator BUTTON —I am aware of current concern about changes to the weather forecasting system. I am not aware of the views of Arch Shields but, of course, there are changes in the methods of weather forecasting; the satellite is of use in that respect, as are computers. In his time, Indigo Jones was of use in respect of weather forecasting and maybe Mr Arch Shields belongs to the Indigo Jones school. I do not know. I will get a more detailed answer from the Minister for Science on the more specific elements of the honourable senator's question.