The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Joint Media Release

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer and The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock

10 May2005

National Tsunami Warning System

Following the tragic events of the Indian Ocean tsunami in December last year, the Australian Government has announced a major initiative to establish an Australian National Tsunami Warning System.

This initiative will provide a comprehensive tsunami warning system for Australia, support international efforts to establish an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system and will contribute to the facilitation of tsunami warnings for the South West Pacific.

The Government will provide $68.9 million over four years to establish a national tsunami warning centre, to be managed jointly by the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia. It will be one of the first Indian Ocean regional warning systems, and will join the planned network of national systems which collectively will form the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System.

Australia is surrounded by 8,000 kilometres of active tectonic plate boundary capable of generating tsunamis with the potential to reach our coastline within two to four hours. One third of earthquakes worldwide occur along these boundaries.

This initiative will provide an around-the-clock tsunami monitoring and analysis capacity for Australia, integrated into our well-established emergency management arrangements. The existing sea-level gauge and seismic network will be upgraded and expanded to ensure accurate and timely tsunami warnings.

The Government also will establish national tsunami education and training programmes to be implemented by Emergency Management Australia. A National Tsunami Emergency Management Plan will also be developed and exercised through EMA. Technical assistance programmes will help build the capacity of scientists and technicians in the South West Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The initiative also includes a contribution to UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the coordinating body for the establishment of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System.

This measure ensures Australia will continue to play a leading diplomatic, scientific and technical role in international efforts to establish a durable and effective Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.

It also demonstrates our strong commitment to assist our Pacific Island neighbours to address the tsunami threat.

Inquiries:  Chris Kenny (Mr Downer's office) 02 62777 500 - Charlie McKillop (Mr Ruddock's office) 02 6277 7300

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