During Senate Estimates this week, the Federal Government again failed to rule out job cuts to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Northern Territory operations.
During questioning by the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Bureau CEO and Director of Meteorology, Dr Andrew Johnson, said, “[The Bureau] is committed to a strong an ongoing presence in all of Australia’s states and territories.”
Federal Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling, reiterated his concern at the lack of clarity Dr.Johnson’s statements provide.
“I’m uncomfortable with Dr. Johnson’s comments. What does ‘committed to a strong and ongoing presence’ really mean? It sounds like spin. It’s not the same as ruling out job cuts and guaranteeing the integrity of our critical local forecasting capability,” said Mr Gosling.
In Federal Parliament yesterday, Mr Gosling expressed his disappointment that Dr. Johnson was unable to tell the Senate Committee how many people are employed in the Northern Territory BOM and that he had sought clarification of the numbers himself.
“The latest Australian Public Service statistics reveal that since 2014, total BoM staff numbers in the NT have declined by more than a quarter. The Prime Minister gave an explicit commitment to Tasmania that no staff will be cut from the Bureau of Meteorology (in Tasmania). But he did not commit to protecting the forecasting capacity in Tasmania or in other states facing cuts. We want an explicit commitment for the NT, not an ambiguous statement about commitment and presence,” Mr Gosling said.
In addition to potential job losses, Mr Gosling reiterated his concern that forecasts and warning quality will be reduced as a result of the proposed changes and put communities and a range of agricultural, commercial and activities like recreational fishing at increasing risk.
“Forecasters based in the Territory provide local expertise that we depend and rely on. I’m concerned that on the eve of the cyclone season, the Government is proposing changes that could jeopardise the local Darwin Bureau of Meteorology’s forecasting capability,” Mr Gosling said.
The Prime Minister should intervene, to provide a guarantee to Territorians that no staff will be cut from the Bureau of Meteorology in the NT and that critical local forecasting capability is not compromised.
THURSDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2018