REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Weather radars in cyclone season? Bob Katter's not happy

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Mount Isa-based North West Star editor Derek Barry.

Kennedy MP: Bob Katter

Kennedy MP: Bob Katter

Those of us living in northern Australia have been spared the nation's worst ever bushfire crisis, but we are still anxiously watching the weather.

This is cyclone season in the north and although it has been late arriving, it is already starting to chew up the letters of the alphabet.

Tropical Cyclone Blake was first to hit parts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia and the damaging winds and rain of Tropical Cyclone Claudia have followed in its path also striking a swathe between Darwin and Karratha.

Mount Isa is reliant on its weather radar which is down for maintenance this week.

Mount Isa is reliant on its weather radar which is down for maintenance this week.

Here in Queensland we are carefully watching satellite images for activity in the Gulf of Carpentaria and Coral Sea that might also develop into the first cyclone of the eastern Australian season.

We in western and north-western Queensland would also be watching the weather radars in Mount Isa and Longreach, except this is the time that the BoM in its infinite wisdom decided to to do annual maintenance.

"The Bureau's maintenance schedules are designed to keep the radars in the best working order and continuing to perform their important role," a spokesperson told us.

Well yes, but timing is everything and Bob Katter has reasonably (yes he can be reasonable) asked why do it now and not say, in the middle of winter, when our weather is a little more predictable.

"Farmers, mining camps, ships at sea, residents and tourists all use these services to prepare and proactively manage risks," Mr Katter said.

"Cyclone and Monsoon events can come on suddenly and every bit of information counts."

He's not wrong there and we only have to look back at last February when the joy of breaking rain gave way to the horror of an unfolding disaster of the death of hundreds of thousands of stock.

A radar "blackspot" in the middle of northern Queensland didn't help matters, something the government has now promised to rectify.

The scale of last year's disaster was so big it was visible from space and created its own weather system.

Mount Isa firies head to NSW - Kim Smith, Gavin Donnelly, Tina Munokoa, Kris Smith, Neil Paine, David Muston and Gaven Bunker.

Mount Isa firies head to NSW - Kim Smith, Gavin Donnelly, Tina Munokoa, Kris Smith, Neil Paine, David Muston and Gaven Bunker.

Having survived that disaster with the love, charity and assistance of many in the south of the country, it is only right that we now help those regions deal with their bushfire catastrophe.

A group of Mount Isa volunteer firies have joined crews deployed in New South Wales while local groups are joining the relief effort with live music events and rubber duck races.

It's a reminder that despite the vastness of our continent that we really are all in this together.

Derek Barry, editor, North West Star

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