SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … Thank you Richard for the introduction.  Ladies and gentlemen, bureau staff, visitors, guests and members of the media, it's wonderful to be able to join you for this launch of the MetEye service in Queensland today.  

Can I start by recognising the words that Ray had at the outset of his comments in regards to honouring and thanking those bureau staff who have done so much, not just over the last cyclone season, but, of course, over the cyclone seasons over many years and extreme weather events right around Australia over recent years for the work that they do, the effort that they put in.  Often it, of course, is unrecognised.  It is important, though, that on occasions like this that we do thank them.  

The bureau operates on a 24/7 basis.  It, of course, is providing updates at a constant level.  As Ray said, a remarkable number of cyclone updates and warnings given, just in relation to TC Ita over the course of the last week.  It really is important to recognise and thank those staff who have worked so hard, who put in extra hours, in providing a most valuable service to our emergency workers, to the communities affected, and to ensuring that we are able to do the utmost to protect life and property in the face of these extreme weather events.  

Now, we're seeing today, of course, the continual evolution and development of the wonderful forecasting services that the bureau has to offer and MetEye is a great leap forward in forecasting services.  Australians, of course – it seems Australians love to talk about the weather.  They love to bitch about the weather.  They love to celebrate the weather.  With all of those things MetEye is going to improve their capability to do so.  With MetEye in fact we have the capacity for almost all Australians to become amateur meteorologists, because they are able to access such a wealth of information.  

What you can see with a service like MetEye is that we have so much data coming in and so much information coming in that allows the bureau to develop the forecasts and the warnings that all Australians have come to rely on.  By developing the $30 million next generation forecast and warning service, the bureau is now able to share that information in a far greater way and in far greater detail with all Australians.  

Through MetEye people are able to zoom down to six-kilometre grids to be able to access all manner of information within that six-kilometre cell.  No matter how remote the part of Queensland it may be, people can get in there, see what the temperature profile looks like, the rainfall profile, the wind, the humidity.  If it's a coastal area, the wave profile.  If it's a river zone, the flood profile.  Even the snow profile, although for Queensland perhaps that's less likely to come into play than for other parts of Australia.  They're able to do this not just at that six-kilometre grid cell, but seven days in advance, down to three-hourly blocks of forecast probability.  That is an amazing resource for all Australians.  

Yes, it's critical as the bureau focuses their work on – for the forecasting and warning capabilities of what the bureau do to protect life and property.  But it's also so important to economic pursuits.  For farmers, for the tourism industry, for all of those whose operations are reliant upon, or impacted by, the weather, they will be able to have better opportunity to plan their business ventures and ensure that they minimise the impact of the weather.  Or, where possible, of course, maximise the benefits from the weather.  Farmers who might be irrigating or have an opportunity to be looking ahead and better planning when they choose to irrigate their crops, or when they choose to seed or harvest or the like, based on when expected rainfall patterns exist.

Tourism operators will be able to have a look when they sequence their tours, especially when they involve maritime activities.  All of this information, it is available, and now more easily available, to different parts of our economy.  Of course, all Queenslanders will be able to, in terms of their recreational pursuits, whether you're planning a party or a wedding, whether you're planning a boat trip or a field trip, will be able to better utilise the weather forecast by delving into MetEye.  The only challenges you've seen from Ray's demonstration before with MetEye is that almost too much information exists there.  

So my invitation and encouragement to Queenslanders, and to all Australians who can access the MetEye service, is to get in there, play with it, have a look at it.  Like any form of IT, it takes a little bit of getting used to.  But once people get used to it, it can become quite addictive and for many people they will find that for many parts of their daily life they will be utilising MetEye and finding ways that it can inform them to make better decisions about their life.  

So my thanks and congratulations to the bureau staff who have done so much to build this profile over the years.  In particular, of course, in building it for the unique conditions of Queensland, which has required different approaches to the rest of Australia.  I congratulate you for all that you've done and am very pleased today to officially launch the MetEye service.


FACILITATOR: Thank you, Senator.  I'd like to thank everybody for joining us here today for the official launch of MetEye in Queensland.  I'm normally the weather services manager here in Queensland…