One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts has demanded an independent inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology after leveling the extraordinary allegation that the organization has interfered with climate data.
During a testy exchange in a Senate Estimates hearing today, Senator Roberts — who does not believe in climate change — peppered the federal government with questions about the BoM.
“Given the serious questions about BoM’s interference with temperature data and reports of faulty measurements and recording equipment, why does the government not want a thorough external independent inquiry and audit of BoM?’’ Senator Roberts asked.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham, representing Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, told Senator Roberts he had presented no evidence to back up the claim about BoM’s interference of temperature data.
Senator Birmingham said the temperature reports from the two automatic weather stations at Goulburn and Thredbo in southern NSW did not form part of the ACORN-SAT (The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network — Surface Air Temperature) dataset which monitors climate variability and change in Australia.
Earlier this year, Mr. Frydenberg ordered a review of temperature data collection methodology after The Australian revealed faults with the two stations when the temperature dipped below -10.4C. The review has been completed and is public.
In July, the two stations experienced an outage because there was a piece of hardware incorrectly installed many years ago which was “not fit for purpose’’ and stopped recording with the low temperature.
“As soon as that problem had been identified … we immediately addressed the situation and replaced the hardware that had been inadvertently installed many, many years ago,’’ BoM director Dr. Andrew Johnson told the Senate Estimates hearing.
“When we identified those two sites had inadvertently had that equipment installed, we checked all our other sites and found another two so the hardware was immediately replaced at those sites but because the temperature hasn’t gone below -10.4C at those sites there had been no interruption to the record.’’
Controversy dogged the bureau’s automatic weather station network since Goulburn man Lance Pigeon saw a -10.4C reading on the BoM’s website on July 2 automatically adjust to -10C, then disappear.
The Australian revealed stations at Tuggeranong in the ACT, Butlers Gorge and Fingal in Tasmania and Mount Baw Baw in Victoria would be replaced.
But when it was Senator Roberts turn for questions in today’s hearing, he claimed members of the Coalition were also concerned about interference in climate data.
“Why would the government not want to ensure that the data it relies upon for energy and climate policies are independently verified,’’ he asked.
Senator Birmingham said the government believed the Bureau brought independence and expertise themselves to the job, and the record of climate data had been subject to ongoing oversight from the technical advisory forum as an additional safeguard.
But Senator Roberts persisted, claiming the former environment minister Greg Hunt had claimed an inquiry would hurt BoM’s reputation, saying “is that because he was aware of what BoM is hiding?’’
Senator Birmingham answered no.
He was then asked by Senator Roberts “wouldn’t an inquiry vindicate BoM then?’’
Senator Birmingham told him there would need to be sufficient cause and reason for an inquiry.
Read rest at The Australian