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Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
Table of Contents

The Case of Meteorology, 1876-1908


Early Colonial Weather Reporting

The Impact of the Telegraph

Beginnings of Intercolonial Co-operation

The Intercolonial Meteorological Conferences

The Role of Clement Wragge

Towards a Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology





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Conclusion (continued)

That meteorology should become a federal responsibility in the Australian Commonwealth was not inevitable. Our case study shows that, provided a sufficient degree of co-operation could be achieved, a nationwide meteorological service could operate successfully with the states retaining responsibility for the work. We have seen, moreover, that the formation of a Commonwealth meteorological bureau did not necessarily entail the cessation of state activity in this area. In practice, however, this is what happened. The Meteorology Act of 1906 thus not only established a new Commonwealth scientific agency: it helped to define the way in which the recently adopted federal Constitution would be put into effect. Our study thus also clarifies the respective roles of the federal and state governments in the new scheme of things, in exercising powers that could actually be managed at either level of government.


Research for this paper was supported by a University of Melbourne/Ballarat University College collaborative research grant, and by a grant to one of us (KTL) from the Telecom Australia Fund for Social and Policy Research in Telecommunications. Gillian Stacey provided extensive research assistance without which the paper could not have been written.

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Home, R. W. and Livingston, K. T. 1994 'Science and Technology in the Story of Australian Federation: The Case of Meteorology, 1876-1908', Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 10, no. 2, December 1994, pp. 109-27.

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