CEO Statement on Budget 2021-22

Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Summer bushfires have demonstrated the urgent need for timely, authoritative and accessible information to make informed decisions to strengthen Australians’ resilience to disasters and open up new economic and social opportunities to grow Australia’s future.

In the wake of these national emergencies, I welcome the Australian Government’s Budget 2021-22, which commits to growing Australia’s digital economy and improving our resilience to climate and natural hazards.

These investments in a new Digital Economy Strategy and the establishment of the Australian Climate Service highlight the importance of Geoscience Australia’s scientific advice, natural hazard and geospatial data and decision-support tools. These new measures will help us deliver the goals set out in Strategy 2028 and increase our capability to support Australia’s future prosperity.

Through the Australian Government’s $1.2 billion Digital Economy Strategy, $40.2 million will fund Geoscience Australia’s development of a Digital Atlas of Australia.

The Digital Atlas of Australia will be a free interactive platform, enabling access to authoritative national datasets on Australia’s geography, people, economy, employment, infrastructure, health, land and the environment. The new platform will embed analysis tools that allow anyone to explore, graph, analyse and compare information that meets their needs in their neighbourhood and across the country. For example, a business will be able to explore and download demographic profiles of towns and regions, along with information on infrastructure, to determine the most commercially-viable places to set up new outlets, anywhere in Australia — making virtual design and planning possible without even having to visit the site.

We are excited to lead this national data initiative which will equip governments, businesses and the community with the information they need to make data-driven decisions tailored to local economic, social and environmental settings.

The Australian Government has also committed $210 million to establish the Australian Climate Service that will connect and leverage the Commonwealth’s extensive climate and natural hazard information into a single national view that has never been seen before, to meet the significant information challenges in managing national disasters.

We are proud to collaborate with the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to deliver this service to Emergency Management Australia and the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency. As a result, the Australian Government will better understand the threats posed to businesses and citizens by a changing climate and natural hazards, and be able to limit the impacts of those threats to our society.

These funding measures recognise the importance of Geoscience Australia’s wealth of data, scientific expertise, and technical capability to delivering the priorities of the Australian Government. They confirm the importance of up-to-date, meaningful data and the tools which enable governments, businesses and citizens to make informed decisions to grow our economy and keep our communities safe.

Dr James Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

Geoscience Australia

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