Weather bureau 'to redeploy' regional staff as automated systems go online
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is planning to further reduce its staffing of regional areas, as it switches to an automatic network of weather observation offices.
The BoM has gradually reduced its regional presence over the past decade, as advances in technology allow climatic conditions to be monitored by computers.
WA regional director Mike Bergin said the organisation was reviewing 30 field offices nationally to see which still needed to have staff present.
"We're looking at those stations to see just what the requirements are for those observations, whether we can automate them entirely or whether we need people there for whatever reason," he said.
"I think it's almost certain that we'll see a reduction, a further reduction, in the number of staff we have at stations, but just where that will be, remains to be seen."
It is the continuation of a process that has seen staff pulled from the West Australian towns of Carnarvon and Eucla in recent years.
There are currently 30 field offices located in major regional centres like Townsville and Mount Isa, as well as smaller towns like Meekatharra and Charleville.
Mr Bergin said it was not about cost-cutting, but improving the quality and quantity of information delivered.
"As we've put in automated systems, we can get data from those systems on a 24 [hour] basis," he said.
"So the quantity of it is vastly enhanced and the quality is of a very high standard, so it actually represents an improvement in the service we provide."
The Bureau said the changes would not result in job losses, but some staff would have to be redeployed to other locations.
Staff told the ABC they had been told regional hubs would be created, so that staff are pulled from smaller field officers and put into larger centres or cities.
Mike Bergin said regional communities would still be kept up to date by relatively local voices.
"In terms of the services to regional radio, our intention is to continue to do that," he said.
"It's a very important facet of what we do, and where we've already made changes to our stations, we've continued to provide services to ABC regional radio, and our intention is to continue to do that."