Title

Geoscience Australia report on performance

A library of storage media.

Annual performance statements

Introductory statement

As the accountable authority of Geoscience Australia, I am pleased to present the annual performance statements of Geoscience Australia for 2015–16, as required under section 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). In my opinion, these statements accurately reflect the performance of Geoscience Australia and comply with section 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Dr Chris Pigram 14 September 2016

Purpose

Geoscience Australia is the geoscience adviser to the Australian Government on matters of national importance, and custodian of the geographical and geological data and knowledge of the nation.

Geoscience Australia delivers a wide range of products to assist government and the community to make informed decisions about the use of natural resources, the management of the environment, and community safety.

Performance reporting structure

In this annual performance statement, Geoscience Australia reviews its performance based on the six key strategic priorities that deliver against the organisation’s purpose:

  • building Australia’s resource wealth—maximise benefits from Australia’s minerals and energy resources, now and into the future
  • ensuring Australia’s community safety—Australian communities are more resilient to natural hazards
  • securing Australia’s water resources—optimise and sustain the use of Australia’s water resources
  • managing Australia’s marine jurisdictions—maximise benefits from the sustainable use of Australia’s marine jurisdiction
  • providing fundamental geographic information—understand the location and timing of processes, activities and changes across Australia to inform decision-making for both natural and built environments
  • maintaining geoscience knowledge and capability—maintain an enduring and accessible knowledge base and capability to enable evidence-based policy and decision-making by government, industry and the community.

Performance measurement

Geoscience Australia uses a number of qualitative and quantitative measures to present a comprehensive view of performance. The performance report for each strategic priority area includes an assessment against the programme deliverables and key performance indicators set out in Geoscience Australia’s 2015–16 Corporate Plan and 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), as well as an analysis of performance evaluating overall achievement of, or progress towards, the purpose.

Entity-level performance

Performance criteria reviewing entity-level performance based on stakeholder satisfaction are provided in Table 33.

Table 33: Stakeholder satisfaction—key performance indicators
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 target 2015–16 result
Overall level of stakeholder satisfaction with Geoscience Australia 2015–16 PBS 80%

87%

Geoscience Australia conducts a biennial stakeholder survey to measure the extent to which its products and services meet the needs of its stakeholders, and to identify organisational strengths and areas for improvement. The survey was last conducted in April 2015.

Results of the survey showed that overall satisfaction with Geoscience Australia remains very high.

Stakeholder satisfaction with the quality of Geoscience Australia’s products and services 2015–16 PBS 80%

89%

Stakeholders reported that Geoscience Australia’s products and services were accurate, reliable and of high quality.

Stakeholder satisfaction with the timeliness of Geoscience Australia in delivering its products and services 2015–16 PBS 80%

75%

While stakeholders provided a favourable response, the result was slightly below the high rating for most other areas covered in the survey. The delivery of products and services is being reviewed to improve performance in this area.

Building Australia’s resource wealth

Environment

Australia’s mineral and energy resources are a major contributor to the nation’s wealth, both economically and socially. Understanding the available resources is a prerequisite for formulating sound policies on resources and land access.

Australia has a significant advantage in the production of resource commodities over other nations. This advantage stems from the rich and diverse mineral and energy endowment, the high quality regional-scale geoscience information that lowers the risks of exploration, advanced exploration, mining and processing technologies, a skilled workforce, generally favourable physical environments, relatively stable economic conditions, enabling and robust legislative framework and low sovereign risk.

Objective

Maximise benefits from Australia’s minerals and energy resources, now and into the future.

Role

To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia’s role is to attract exploration investment to Australia by building a prospectus of minerals and energy resource potential.

Performance criteria and results

Table 34: Building Australia’s resource wealth—deliverables
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 result
Provision of information and advice to the Australian Government and other stakeholders on Australia’s minerals and energy resources

2015–16 Corporate Plan

2015–16 PBS

Geoscience Australia responded to 178 requests from the Foreign Investment Review Board and nine requests from the Department of the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Geoscience Australia also provided technical advice to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Project, including participating in community consultation meetings, and for the Offshore Petroleum Resource Management Review.

Provision of support to the Offshore Petroleum Acreage Release—gazettal areas 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
The 2016 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release was delayed by the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia pending the outcome of the July 2016 federal election. In preparation for the release, Geoscience Australia finalised the geological components and populated the website with new documentation and information. In support of the geological information about the proposed release areas, Geoscience Australia presented a paper on the hydrocarbon prospectivity of the Browse Basin at the 2016 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference in June 2016. All data will be available through the National Offshore Petroleum Information Management System.
Release of pre-competitive offshore data on the Houtman Sub-basin 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Geoscience Australia released a two-dimensional pre-competitive seismic reflection dataset in the northern Houtman Sub-basin (offshore Western Australia) in June 2016 at the 2016 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference. The dataset provides important information to support a petroleum prospectivity assessment of this region and will support future petroleum acreage releases.
Publish Australian Energy Resource Assessment 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Geoscience Australia prepared a new website for the Australian Energy Resource Assessment with updates on oil, gas, coal, uranium and thorium resources. Delivery was postponed to 2016–17 due to the July 2016 federal election.
Publish a mineral explorer’s guide for the Stavely Zone, western Victoria 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
At the request of the Victorian Government, Geoscience Australia postponed the release of the Stavely Zone explorer’s guide to 2016–17 to align with the state’s minerals acreage release timetable.
Publish final CO2 geological storage assessments for the National CO2 Infrastructure Plan 2015–16 Corporate Plan Geoscience Australia published geological storage assessments for the offshore Browse Basin and Vlaming Sub-basin in Western Australia. A geological storage assessment was also published for the Darling Basin in New South Wales and a programme of well data acquisition continued in the Canning Basin Western Australia; both conducted in conjunction with the respective state governments.
Delivery of international promotional campaigns in collaboration with state and Northern Territory geological agencies in South East Asia and North America to attract investment for Australia’s minerals and energy resources 2015–16 Corporate Plan

Geoscience Australia undertook international minerals promotions events in China (China Mining, China–Australia Mineral Investment Seminar), Japan (Japan–Australia Mineral Investment Seminar), Korea (Korea–Australia Mineral Investment Seminar) and Canada (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention). These events were coordinated by Geoscience Australia on behalf of Australia Minerals.

Geoscience Australia also undertook two international oil and gas related promotional activities. In September 2015, Australia Petroleum participated in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists International Conference and Exhibition in Melbourne. In February 2016, Australia Petroleum participated in the North America Petroleum Exhibition in Houston. Both exhibitions focused on promoting oil and gas investment opportunities in onshore and offshore areas of Australia, including the 2015 offshore petroleum acreage release areas. The latter also resulted in enhanced engagement and collaboration with the Australian American Chamber of Commerce.

The 2016 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release information dissemination tour to Asian capitals was postponed pending the formal release of the acreage after the July 2016 federal election.

Release and delivery of onshore pre-competitive geophysical data 2015–16 Corporate Plan

Geoscience Australia released five deep seismic reflection lines and associated gravity data for the Canning (WA), Eucla-Gawler (WA/SA), Darling (NSW), Boulia (Qld) and Gippsland (Vic) regions. Three magnetic and radiometric datasets were released for the Coompana (SA), Yalgoo (WA) and Delamere (NT) regions. The Coompana regional survey was the largest continuous survey collected in Australia to date. Four gravity datasets were released for the Gippsland (Vic), Yilgarn (WA), Wiso (NT) and Victoria Basin (NT) regions.

Geoscience Australia also developed a web map services function to its deep seismic reflection archive, making this data more readily discoverable through the Australian Geoscience Information Network portal.

Table 35: Building Australia’s resource wealth—key performance indicators
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 target 2015–16 result
Stakeholder satisfaction with Geoscience Australia’s acreage release products and services

2015–16 Corporate Plan

2015–16 PBS

80%

85%

Geoscience Australia conducts a biennial stakeholder survey to measure the extent to which its products and services meet the needs of its stakeholders. The survey was last conducted in April 2015.

Geoscience Australia’s data is used by companies that are successfully awarded offshore petroleum acreage release 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
80%

100%

In October 2015 the Hon Josh Frydenberg, Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, announced that four offshore petroleum exploration permits, representing $297 million in new investment, had been granted in Commonwealth waters off Western Australia as part of the second round of the 2014 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release. Of the companies awarded the permits, all accessed Geoscience Australia’s data.

Investment uptake by minerals exploration industry of tenement blocks released in 2015–16 by the Victorian Government in the greenfields Stavely Zone, western Victoria 2015–16 Corporate Plan 60%

0%

Tenement blocks under the control of the State of Victoria were not made available. The expectation is that blocks will be released in 2016–17 following concerted marketing and promotion by the Victorian Government.

Number of new investors attracted to minerals and energy exploration in Australia through domestic and international promotional events 2015–16 Corporate Plan 5

Information not yet available. Promotion of Geoscience Australia’s work at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists International Conference and Exhibition in Melbourne and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference in Brisbane resulted in 10 industry stakeholder requests for data and reports for the onshore Cooper Basin (SA–Qld), four requests for seismic data and reports for the offshore Houtman Sub-basin and Browse Basin (WA), and one request for seismic data for the offshore Gippsland Basin (Vic.).

Australia Minerals events in Japan and China attracted several potential new investors to Australia, with inquiries related to opportunities for sand mining in Western Australia from Japan, and Chinese investors seeking mine-ready iron-ore and manganese projects. Inquiries were received after these events, including follow-up inquiries from Chinese companies seeking to invest in lithium exploration projects.

Number of requests for Geoscience Australia data received from new entrants to exploration in Australia 2015–16 Corporate Plan 10

7

Several requests from potential new entrants to Australia were received at each of the Australia Minerals promotional events. Interest in Geoscience Australia’s pre-competitive data was strong. Requests for recently completed datasets and geoscientific modelling—as well as presentations and advice on where the next data will be acquired—were received from potential explorers during and after all events.

Geoscience Australia data and reports were used in several applications for mineral exploration licences or increased exploration during 2015–16.

Analysis of performance

During 2015–16, Geoscience Australia continued to deliver world-class pre-competitive data to industry to attract exploration investment to Australia. The organisation is well regarded for its data holdings, their quality and diversity, and their ease and cost of access. This is evidenced by the number of requests for data and associated products.

The negative state of the market in both minerals and energy has resulted in a dramatic reduction in exploration. The reduction has been most pronounced in the greenfields mineral provinces and frontier basins where Geoscience Australia mainly works. Geoscience Australia continued to promote exploration investment opportunities, commensurate with its work programme and collaborations with the state and Northern Territory governments, given the cyclical nature of the resources industry.

Based on written feedback and stakeholder survey results, Geoscience Australia is extremely well regarded across government at the Commonwealth, state and territory levels, as well as in industry.

Ensuring Australia’s community safety

Environment

Natural hazards, particularly floods, cyclones, bushfires and earthquakes, have a significant impact on the economy, the environment and society. The direct costs of property and infrastructure damage and business losses are significant, as are the Australian Government’s outlays in relief and recovery payments.

Australia’s ability to effectively mitigate the impacts of natural hazards and disasters is contingent upon the availability of information on the incidence and impact of specific hazards and on early warning and advice.

Objective

Australian communities are more resilient to natural hazards.

Role

To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia’s role is to support Australia’s capability to manage the impact of natural hazards.

Performance criteria and results

Table 36: Ensuring Australia’s community safety—deliverables
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 result
Provision of information, advice, data and tools to the Australian Government to mitigate against and respond to natural hazards 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

Timely information and advice was provided to the Australian Government as requested.

In September 2015, Geoscience Australia gave evidence to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in public session. The evidence addressed Geoscience Australia’s role in gathering and analysing seismic data, the understanding of Australia’s seismicity, and strategies to mitigate the risk of damage from earthquakes.

Geoscience Australia provided technical advice following the series of earthquakes that struck off the Queensland coast in August 2015, and on the levels of seismic activity that present risks to infrastructure and facilities.

Completion of the Australian Flood Risk Information Portal 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
The Australian Flood Risk Information Portal was completed, although flood studies are not yet available through the portal due to copyright and intellectual property issues. It is anticipated that these issues will be resolved in key states by December 2016, enabling flood studies to be accessible and available for re-use.
Provision of an earthquake alert and tsunami warning service 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

A total of 269 rapid earthquake alerts, including 96 alerts of Australian earthquakes, were provided directly to 23 government, emergency sector and infrastructure management organisations. Of these, 57 were alerted to the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre as having the potential to generate tsunami in the Australian region, 14 generated observable tsunami in the Pacific Ocean and two generated observable tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

A total of 1279 earthquakes of regional significance were analysed and added to the national earthquake catalogue, including 487 Australian earthquakes. More than 6000 reports of earthquakes felt in Australia and requests for information were received from the public. Earthquake advice to the public was also provided via approximately 300 credited media reports and Geoscience Australia’s website.

Delivery of satellite derived bushfire hotspot information via the national bushfire monitoring system (Sentinel) 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
The reliability of the Sentinel Hotspots system was improved during 2015–16 and the system was deployed at Geoscience Australia’s backup data centre. Geoscience Australia was awarded a grant through the National Emergency Management Projects programme to implement a new data feed, from the Himawari-8 satellite, for the 2016–17 disaster season. Geoscience Australia is migrating the Sentinel application into a cloud based system to further increase availability and scalability for the 2016–17 disaster season.
Release the 2015–16 edition of building exposure and agricultural exposure products from the National Exposure Information System 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

The 2015–16 edition of exposure information products was delivered via downloadable datasets and web services released in February 2016. The new edition included updates to information describing the exposure of residential, commercial and industrial buildings and agricultural assets to hazards. Population densities were also included.

Institutional and infrastructure datasets were also updated.

Delivery of the final built environment exposure framework report to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
The completed framework report was delivered to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre in October 2015. The report seeks to address complex multi-user requirements through findings from literature reviews, stakeholder engagement workshops, and online surveys of existing information capabilities. Further stakeholder meetings are being conducted to assist in prioritising the implementation of the framework.
Provide mapping services and support to the Australian Government’s Crisis Coordination Centre 2015–16 Corporate Plan

Geoscience Australia continued to provide mapping services and support to the Crisis Coordination Centre throughout the year. Significant support and advice was provided for:

  • bushfires during December and January in south-west Western Australia, in South Australia, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and in world heritage areas in Tasmania
  • the east coast low severe weather event in May and June
  • the Brussels train bombings in February.

Enhancements were implemented to improve the generation of customised exposure information on request, particularly for the Attorney-General’s Department to support Australian Government responses to national disasters.

Delivery of final reports for the Papua New Guinea Risk and Volcano Monitoring programmes 2015–16 Corporate Plan The final report for the Papua New Guinea Volcano Monitoring programme was delivered to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in December 2015. The Papua New Guinea Risk programme has been extended to August 2016.
Delivery of the Australia–Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction work programme 2015–16 Corporate Plan The work programme was completed in 2015. A follow-up three-year science programme called DMInnovation commenced in 2015. DMInnovation is being implemented by Geoscience Australia and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Table 37: Ensuring Australia’s community safety—key performance indicators
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 target 2015–16 result
Availability of national bushfire monitoring system, Sentinel, between October and March 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
90%

96%

The Sentinel Hotspots met its target for the 2015–16 disaster season. The availability measure was broadened to include data loss in addition to system uptime, and with this more difficult metric availability of 96.3 per cent was achieved.

Respond to requests to activate the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters within 24 hours 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
90%

Not applicable

The International Charter for Space and Major Disasters was not activated during 2015–16.

Number of flood study entries accessible to the public through the Australian Flood Risk Information Portal 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
1750

Nil

The Australian Flood Risk Information Portal was completed, but flood studies are not yet available through the portal due to copyright and intellectual property issues.

Earthquake alerts and tsunami warnings issued within agreed timeframes 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
100%

100%

During 2015–16, Geoscience Australia analysed and catalogued 1387 earthquakes from around the world. A total of 1279 earthquakes occurred in the Australian region and 487 occurred in Australia; 269 earthquakes were alerted to the Australian Government’s Crisis Coordination Centre. The largest Australian earthquake during 2015–16 had a magnitude of 6.1 and occurred in the Petermann Ranges, Northern Territory, on 21 May 2016.

Nuclear events detected within agreed timeframes 2015–16 Corporate Plan 2015–16 PBS 100%

100%

During 2015–16, Geoscience Australia analysed continuous seismic data to identify clandestine nuclear weapon detonations. Geoscience Australia detected and provided the first notification of North Korea’s fourth nuclear detonation, which occurred on 6 January 2016, to the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office and the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

Analysis of performance

During 2015–16, Geoscience Australia continued to develop the accuracy of publicly available exposure information and deliver essential hazard alert and information services.

Advances in data content and customised reports for the Attorney-General’s Department, and more broadly for the emergency management sector, improved the delivery of exposure information. This supported natural hazard and vulnerability modelling for impact analysis. The publication of the built environment exposure framework under the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre will provide a roadmap for continued development of Geoscience Australia’s exposure information capability in 2016–17.

The four-year, $12 million National Flood Risk Information Project finished on 30 June 2016. The objective of the project was to improve the quality, availability and accessibility of flood information across Australia through three core activities:

  • Water Observations from Space—an analysis of Australia’s archive of satellite imagery to derive water observations to inform our understanding of past flood events
  • Australian Rainfall and Runoff Guidelines—a revision of the national guidelines for flood modelling to improve the quality and consistency of future flood studies
  • Australian Flood Risk Information Portal—a central online location that provides access to an archive of Australian flood studies.

Geoscience Australia and the Attorney-General’s Department are currently developing a strategy for addressing the copyright and intellectual property barriers to enable the flood studies to be freely available to the Australian community.

For the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Geoscience Australia successfully completed the aid-funded Papua New Guinea Volcano Monitoring and Natural Hazard Risk programmes, and provided remote sensing and geospatial support. This enabled informed decisions to be made on the Australian Government’s involvement and assistance to Papua New Guinea during the 2015 drought event.

Geoscience Australia commenced an upgrade of the national seismic hazard assessment. This work is a key input into the national building standards.

Securing Australia’s water resources

Environment

Australia is the driest inhabited continent by land area, which makes the use and management of water a key challenge. There is, however, a sparse understanding of our water resources in much of the continent.

Groundwater and surface water systems are fundamentally linked and an adequate understanding of groundwater in particular is critical for optimised and holistic management of water resources. In many parts of Australia, groundwater underpins minerals and energy resource development, agriculture and regional communities, and the environment. Understanding groundwater systems and minimising the impacts of development on groundwater supply and quality are thus critical to Australia’s ongoing water security and regional development.

Objective

Optimise and sustain the use of Australia’s water resources.

Role

To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia’s role is to inform the understanding of the location, quantity, quality and sustainable use of Australia’s groundwater resources and surface water systems.

Performance criteria and results

Table 38: Securing Australia’s water resources—deliverables
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 result
Provision of information and advice to the Australian Government and other stakeholders on groundwater resources, processes and impacts 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Geoscience Australia delivered 32 advice products on impacts to groundwater from extractive industries; 22 related to coal and coal seam gas and 10 related to uranium exploration or mining activities.
Delivery of Geoscience Australia’s components of the Australian Government’s Bioregional Assessments Technical Programme 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

Geoscience Australia delivered six final products for the Lake Eyre Basin bioregion to the Department of the Environment (including reports, maps and datasets), comprising four products for the Cooper subregion and two products for the Galilee subregion. Ongoing work for the Galilee subregion resulted in a further five products (focused on model-data analysis) being delivered to the internal review stage, as well as two successful external stakeholder workshops being completed.

Geoscience Australia also provided cross-cutting technical and scientific input in the disciplines of geology and hydrogeology for other bioregions, including the Namoi and Maranoa–Balonne–Condamine subregions of the Northern Inland Catchments bioregion.

Release the 2015–16 edition of the national surface water product to support water forecasting by the Bureau of Meteorology 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Geoscience Australia provided updates for surface water and catchment boundaries in the western two-thirds of Australia to support the Bureau of Meteorology’s water forecasting programmes.
Table 39: Securing Australia’s water resources—key performance indicators
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 target 2015–16 result
Requests for groundwater resource management advice on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999—Water Trigger Amendment 2013 referrals and approval conditions responded to within agreed time frames 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
95%

100%

Geoscience Australia delivered 22 advice products on impacts to groundwater in relation to referrals and approvals under the Water Trigger Amendment. All were delivered within agreed time frames.

Surface water foundation spatial datasets meet legal and policy needs of the Water Act 2007 and the National Climate Change Adaptation Framework 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
100%

100%

Geoscience Australia’s surface water and elevation products were adopted by entities operating under the Water Act and the National Climate Change Adaptation Framework, in particular the Bureau of Meteorology for national water forecasting and the Murray–Darling Basin Authority for environmental flow modelling.

Analysis of performance

Geoscience Australia is recognised as a provider of science-based advice to government on potential impacts to groundwater from specific minerals and energy resource development activities, and custodian of national surface water and catchment datasets.

During 2015–16, Geoscience Australia delivered components of the Australian Government’s Bioregional Assessment Programme for the Lake Eyre Basin bioregion and provided geoscience expertise to bioregional assessments in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, in partnership with the Department of the Environment, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and state governments. The aim of the programme is to better understand the potential impacts of coal mining and coal seam gas extraction on Australia’s water resources and water-dependent assets to support sustainable use of water in these regions. The Bioregional Assessment Programme will be completed in 2016–17.

Geoscience Australia also provided critical advice to government on groundwater resource prospectivity and key foundation location information used to underpin effective national water resource management by Australian Government entities.

Managing Australia’s marine jurisdictions

Environment

Australia’s marine jurisdiction is large, at 1.8 times the size of Australia’s land mass and 4 per cent of the global ocean. With increasing global demand for energy, food and security, activity within the marine jurisdiction is becoming increasingly important to the Australian economy. Effective and efficient management of the marine jurisdiction relies on baseline mapping, definition of boundaries and characterisation of marine resources and assets, and the ability to measure change over time.

Objective

Maximise benefits from the sustainable use of Australia’s marine jurisdiction.

Role

To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia’s role is to contribute to the sustainable development of marine resources and conservation of key ecosystems.

Performance criteria and results

Table 40: Managing Australia’s marine jurisdictions—deliverables
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 result
Provision of information and advice to the Australian Government and other stakeholders on marine environmental assets and Australia’s Antarctic Territory 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

Geoscience Australia provided expert technical advice and critical review to the Australian Antarctic Division on the marine geoscience capabilities and functional performance of the Australian Government’s replacement icebreaker.

Geoscience Australia also provided geoscience advice to the Australian Antarctic Division on a range of marine and terrestrial environmental themes, including:

  • implementation of a marine seafloor mapping programme
  • Australia’s case for a proposed system of Marine Protected Areas along the Australian Antarctic Territory coast
  • identification, protection and management of sites of special geoscientific significance
  • the potential impact of human activities on the fragile Antarctic landscape and options for mitigation.
Release the 2015–16 edition of Australia’s maritime boundaries 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

Geoscience Australia released its maritime boundaries data to the public, covered under:

  • the Seas and Submerged Lands Act 1973, including territorial sea baselines, territorial seas, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the extended continental shelf
  • the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006, including petroleum exploration blocks and offshore areas
  • treaties between Australia and its neighbours: East Timor, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Work continued on updating the location of Australia’s territorial sea baseline, in collaboration with the land information agencies in each state and territory.

Delivery of the Casey Station seabed bathymetry dataset and marine survey report on the Australian Antarctic Territory 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Geoscience Australia publicly released a high-resolution seabed bathymetry dataset of the Casey Station region and an accompanying marine survey report. The survey was a collaborative programme with the Australian Antarctic Division and the Royal Australian Navy. A new navigational chart of the Casey area, based on the survey, was published by the Australian Hydrographic Office (AUS 601).
Delivery of research products describing marine biodiversity assets in key areas of the marine estate as part of the National Environmental Science Programme Marine Biodiversity Hub 2015–16 Corporate Plan Geoscience Australia delivered digital datasets and derived products (maps and publications) to partners and stakeholders in the Marine Biodiversity Hub for priority areas in the Northwest Marine Region and broader Commonwealth Marine Area. Priority areas include Oceanic Shoals and Kimberley Commonwealth marine reserves for which high-resolution bathymetry datasets, geomorphology maps and seabed sample data are integrated into the online Northwest Atlas (www.northwestatlas.org). Geoscience Australia also collaborated with Marine Biodiversity Hub partners on a national map of reef habitats on the continental shelf and led the development of a national standard for defining and classifying reef geomorphology. Stakeholder workshops were held to ensure that these datasets and products are aligned to users’ needs.
Provision of high-resolution seabed mapping datasets and post-survey report to the Australian Government and other stakeholders for the Darwin Harbour marine survey 2015–16 Corporate Plan Geoscience Australia, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Northern Territory Government completed a seabed mapping and sampling survey of outer Darwin Harbour. The survey was conducted under the Northern Territory Government’s marine habitat mapping programme (part of the INPEX Environmental Offsets Project). Data acquired in the survey included 720 square kilometres of multibeam sonar data, 105 underwater video transects and seabed sediment collected from 96 stations.
Table 41: Managing Australia’s marine jurisdictions—key performance indicators
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 target 2015–16 result
Authoritative representations of Australia’s maritime boundaries are accessible via the interactive mapping platform 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
90%

90%

The data released by Geoscience Australia is available in the Australian Marine Spatial Information System theme of Geoscience Australia’s Interactive Maps online mapping tool at www.ga.gov.au/interactive-maps/#/theme/amsis. The final remaining dataset for which Geoscience Australia is custodian, mineral blocks, will be made available in 2016–17.

The approach and process used to generate Australia’s maritime boundaries and treaties have been used by other Pacific island nations in the negotiation of their maritime boundaries under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This work was led by Geoscience Australia in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Attorney-General’s Department, the University of Sydney, the South Pacific Community and other national and international agencies.

Public availability of the Darwin Harbour bathymetry dataset and marine survey report via Geoscience Australia’s website 2015–16 Corporate Plan 100%

100%

The Darwin Harbour bathymetry dataset is available online at www.ga.gov.au/metadata-gateway/metadata/record/100093. The Darwin Harbour marine survey report is available at dx.doi.org/10.11636/Record.2016.008.

Public availability of the Casey Station bathymetry dataset and marine survey report via Geoscience Australia’s website 2015–16 Corporate Plan 100%

100%

The Casey Station bathymetry dataset and marine survey report were published in May 2016 and are available at www.ga.gov.au/metadata-gateway/metadata/record/83224.

Analysis of performance

In 2015–16, updated maritime boundary and marine management data was released through the Australian Marine Spatial Information System. This is a web-based interactive mapping system that enhances government access to accurate and current information to directly support evidence-based decision-making.

During the year, marine environmental data and interpretations for Casey Station (Antarctica), Darwin Harbour and the North and Northwest Marine Regions were acquired and made available. This vastly increased the available baseline information and will inform decision-makers of these unique marine environments that are in high-use areas. The bathymetric data from Casey Station will also contribute to improved navigation in Antarctica once the information is integrated into new hydrographic charts.

Providing fundamental geographic information

Environment

Australia has a vast and rich landscape and geographic data provides the nation with a multifaceted view of Australia’s landscape through time.

Geoscience data and information is a significant national resource with enduring value for the Australian community. Understanding and analysing when and where things are happening is essential for government, industry and researchers to make decisions and improve national economic, environmental and social outcomes for the nation.

Objective

Understand the location and timing of processes, activities and changes across the Australian continent to inform decision-making for both natural and built environments.

Role

To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia’s role is to provide reliable national fundamental information about the geographies of the nation.

Performance criteria and results

Table 42: Providing fundamental geographic information—deliverables
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 result
Delivery of updated water observations providing a multi-temporal coverage of Australia from 1987 to 2015 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

The Water Observations from Space product was updated with all available data from 1987 to January 2016 and delivered via newly developed, production-level web services hosted at the National Computational Infrastructure in February 2016.

The online mapping system was transitioned to Interactive Maps, providing an interface consistent with other Geoscience Australia web mapping products. The system is now being updated for use in Australian Geoscience Data Cube version 2. The next release is expected once the underlying data has been updated to the version 2 standard in the first quarter of 2016–17.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority is using the product to determine the environmental flow volumes required to provide water to significant ecosystems.

Population of National Map and interactive mapping platforms with updated digital topographic maps, base maps, and foundation spatial data products 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

The Interactive Maps online mapping tool was launched in September 2015, showcasing Geoscience Australia’s surface water, hazards, geology and geophysics, topography, Earth observation, maritime boundaries, and marine and coastal information. See www.ga.gov.au/interactive-maps/#/.

Geoscience Australia oversaw the testing and implementation of 19 software updates to the NationalMap tool to improve functionality, content and user experience.

Geoscience Australia led and supported collaborations to extend the application of the TerriaJS mapping platform used in NationalMap to assist in industry investment decisions for renewable energy (with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Council) and in northern Australia (with Austrade).

The national base map (released as colour and Greyscale maps) used in both Interactive Maps and NationalMap was improved by including information on Australia’s external territories. Maps of the national digital elevation model, the revised national surface water data product, and northern Australia land tenure were also included. The reliability and performance of all base maps were improved as a result of server infrastructure upgrades.

Caches of base maps were made available to other government entities to meet their specific needs.

Geoscience Australia continued to lead the implementation of Australia’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework on behalf of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and ANZLIC – the Spatial Information Council. Geoscience Australia led workshops with custodians of Australia’s various foundation spatial datasets during 2015, which uncovered nearly 1000 individual datasets that contribute to the Foundation Spatial Data Framework. Geoscience Australia is now in the process of organising these datasets to make it easy for users to discover information that meets their needs.

Release of the 2015–16 edition of Australia’s national digital elevation model 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

The suite of Australia’s national digital elevation models now includes improved information covering populated coastal areas and riverine floodplains in the Murray–Darling Basin.

All national digital elevation products are now available for direct download via Geoscience Australia’s Elevation Information System at www.ga.gov.au/elvis. The new system has reduced staffing and infrastructure costs to around 20 per cent of previous expenditure, and has improved time to market from two days to five minutes. Since January 2016 the demand for these products has increased tenfold.

Delivery of updated aeronautical navigation charts and vertical obstacles information to Airservices Australia 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

All 15 visual navigation charts (for flight planning and operations when nearing controlled airspace or restricted areas), 22 visual terminal charts (for aeronautical operations in the vicinity of major aerodromes) and 21 world aeronautical charts (for pre-flight planning and pilotage) were delivered to Airservices Australia on time.

Geoscience Australia made several improvements to the content of Airservices Australia’s vertical obstacle database. Of the 36 796 vertical obstacles in the database, all 3000 vertical obstacles with a height above the landscape greater than 100 metres had their existence and position verified. A further 4700 vertical obstacles were updated and verified, and 487 new vertical obstacles were added.

Development of a new national time-dependent coordinate reference frame 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Significant progress was made towards the development of a time-dependent coordinate reference frame. A new national tectonic plate model was developed and tested. A continuously updating national geodetic adjustment was implemented at the National Computational Infrastructure that seamlessly integrates geodetic data from the Commonwealth and all states and territories. Algorithms for transforming legacy geospatial data to the new reference frame were defined.
Provision of ocean floor mapping, data and advice to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to support the search for missing aeroplane MH370 2015–16 Corporate Plan Geoscience Australia provided geospatial information skills and support, contract services support, processing, and scientific advice on approximately 67 600 square kilometres of bathymetry survey data and reviewed 65 220 square kilometres of sonar data from the underwater search for missing flight MH370 to the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau. In addition, Geoscience Australia archived all data acquired during sea floor surveying and the underwater search including multibeam shipboard bathymetry, towed and autonomous multibeam echo sounder data, and side scan and synthetic aperture side scan sonar data totalling 150 terabytes. Geoscience Australia also managed marine ecological analysis of recovered aircraft parts identified from missing flight MH370.
Table 43: Providing fundamental geographic information—key performance indicators
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–15 target 2015–16 result
Respond to requests for geospatial information to the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre within two hours between October and March 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
90%

100%

Geoscience Australia responded to all requests within two hours for geospatial information and support to the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre. Geoscience Australia provided continuous on-site business hours support to the centre and after-hours phone support at all other times between October and March.

National elevation and vertical obstacle products comply with Civil Aviation Regulations 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
100%

100%

Geoscience Australia’s national elevation and vertical obstacle products complied with Civil Aviation Regulations.

Foundation Spatial Data Framework products are accessible through National Map and interactive mapping platforms 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
60%

60%

The foundation spatial data products registered in the Foundation Spatial Data Framework at www.anzlic.gov.au of which Geoscience Australia is the custodian are accessible from NationalMap and/or Interactive Maps. These include the 1” Digital Elevation Model, the 50 m Multibeam Dataset, Hydrological Obstacles, the Water Observations from Space, the National Gazetteer, National Topographic Data, Navigation Aids and Obstacles, Catchment Boundaries, Dynamic Land Cover, and Maritime Boundaries.

Geoscience Australia data products are accessible at data.gov.au.

Analysis of performance

During 2015–16, Geoscience Australia contributed to the release of three major new information delivery systems; made improvements to the content and accuracy of elevation and bathymetry data; and provided critical mapping support for public safety.

The capabilities and services developed for the upgraded coordinate reference frame ensured that Australia’s fundamental spatial data continued to be compatible with existing and emerging satellite positioning capabilities. Efforts to develop the National Positioning Infrastructure will contribute to ensuring that Australia will have access to satellite positioning capabilities found in other developed countries.

The release of an updated Water Observations from Space product directly supported the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to undertake its most comprehensive study to date of historical flood inundation in the Northern Basin. The high-resolution digital elevation models generated from the completion of the multi-year, multi-agency acquisition will provide essential tools for modelling the impact of planned environmental water flows on vegetation and agricultural areas in the Basin.

These activities have significantly improved the use of fundamental geographic information by government, industry and the public to support decision-making for planning, investment and emergency management. Building upon these efforts, Geoscience Australia will continue to lead the implementation of Australia’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework to improve the coordination and use of geographic information nationally in 2016–17.

Maintaining geoscience knowledge and capability

Environment

Properly collected and archived data has an enduring value. It is essential this data is collected through appropriate means and is available in a format that is understandable and accessible.

This data is acquired from a range of platforms including satellites, observatories and laboratory instruments. Data from individual observatories or individual samples can be integrated to build models of our continent, Antarctica, island territories and surrounding oceans.

Objective

Maintain an enduring and accessible knowledge base and capability to enable evidence-based policy and decision-making by government, industry and the community.

Role

To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia’s role is to ensure geoscientific and geospatial data, information and collections are gathered, managed and made accessible for the use of all Australians both now and into the future.

Performance criteria and results

Table 44: Maintaining geoscience knowledge and capability—deliverables
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 result
Delivery of land surface observations from Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 satellites 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Geoscience Australia continued to acquire Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 data, and processed the data to a level where it is ready for analysis by end users. The data is available through the Australian Geoscience Data Cube and via web services on the National Computational Infrastructure, usually within 10 days of acquisition by the satellites. Recent innovations resulted in improved quality and accuracy in the processing of the Landsat data. The entire archive is currently being updated to the new standards and will be available by the end of the first quarter of 2016–17.
Delivery of enhanced capability of the Australian Geoscience Data Cube to support additional streams of satellite data 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

The Australian Geoscience Data Cube was upgraded to provide better tools for data access and processing, and allow for the ingestion of data from multiple sources, including MODIS and the Copernicus satellites.

Ingestion of synthetic aperture radar data from the Sentinel-1 satellites was successfully demonstrated through a collaborative project with the UK Satellite Applications Catapult agency, resulting in the creation of a synthetic aperture radar cube in the United Kingdom to Australian Geoscience Data Cube specifications.

Geoscience Australia also signed a comprehensive strategic partnership with the European Commission to promote exploitation of data from Europe’s Sentinel satellites. The Sentinel satellites will provide comprehensive data about Australia and the surrounding region, and through this agreement Australia will have dedicated high-speed access to this crucial operational stream of data. Geoscience Australia is also working with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the governments of Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia to establish a regional hub to distribute this data in the South-East Asian and South Pacific region.

Upgrade of the Alice Springs observatory antenna 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

Geoscience Australia upgraded the Alice Springs antenna to enhance its capability. The antenna was originally installed in 1979. The upgrade provides a fully redundant X-Band data acquisition system and S-Band telemetry tracking and control system for Landsat 7 and 8 missions. This has extended the economic life of the Alice Springs ground station through to the year 2035, and facilitated Geoscience Australia’s membership in the Landsat Ground Network. Membership of the network strengthens Australia’s relationship with the United States for Earth observation satellite programmes and provides a platform for Australia to participate in a global network that includes the United States and Germany.

The successful delivery of this programme elevates the Alice Springs antenna to a Tier 1 ground station, fulfilling the Australian Government agenda as defined in the National Earth Observations from Space Infrastructure Plan.

Delivery of the National Science Week and Earth Science Week programmes, to raise awareness of geoscience in the Australian community 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
Geoscience Australia delivered a series of activities to promote National Science Week, including building tours, public talks and a career market day, and hosted a major public outreach event—Open Day—which attracted more than 5000 visitors. Earth Science Week was promoted with staff activities, an online quiz, and a photographic competition that attracted 317 entries from across Australia.
Delivery of geoscience education services through Geoscience Australia’s Education Centre and website 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

Geoscience Australia continued to a deliver a well-regarded education programme. In January 2016, Geoscience Australia welcomed the 100 000th visitor to the Geoscience Australia Education Centre. Satisfaction with the education programme continued to be very high. In 2015–16, the programme achieved a satisfaction level of 98 per cent from visiting teachers.

During 2015–16, 9256 students visited the centre for educator-facilitated visits, 413 students attended under a newly introduced self-guided model and 169 students engaged with Geoscience Australia using videoconferencing sessions. More than 90 per cent of onsite visitors travelled from interstate and approximately 75 per cent of schools were return visitors.

The programme also provided professional development to 187 teachers through onsite training in Earth science related topics. Geoscience Australia continued to expand its online resource offerings, adding new curriculum-aligned resources to its website.

Full implementation of the National Offshore Petroleum Information Management System 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS

Geoscience Australia developed the National Offshore Petroleum Information Management System (NOPIMS) as an online data discovery and delivery system for Australian offshore petroleum wells and surveys. The fully implemented NOPIMS was released to industry at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference and Exhibition in June 2016.

The NOPIMS now contains 95 per cent of the petroleum wells and 85 per cent of the surveys of the total offshore petroleum collection. The current data holding on the NOPIMS is 34 terabytes. There are 513 registered NOPIMS users who have downloaded 4 terabytes of data since June 2015.

Table 45: Maintaining geoscience knowledge and capability—key performance indicators
Performance criterion Criterion source 2015–16 target 2015–16 result
Scheduled satellite passes acquired 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
98%

94%

The scheduled upgrade of the Alice Springs primary antenna from January to May 2016 adversely affected the success rate of acquiring scheduled satellite passes, resulting in the failure to achieve the 98 per cent target. This was a known issue before the upgrade commenced, but the upgrade was necessary to support ongoing capability.

Data availability from geodetic observatory networks 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
95%

98%

The Australian Regional Global Navigation Satellite System network achieved 97 per cent data availability.

The Pacific Global Navigation Satellite System network achieved 98 per cent data availability.

The number of satellite laser ranging passes for geodetic reference frame purposes and rankings in the global network of stations were world-class:

  • Yarragadee (WA)—24 008 passes (number 1 in the world)
  • Mt Stromlo (ACT)—11 057 passes (number 3 in the world).
Data availability from infrasound and hydro-acoustic networks 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
98%

88%

During May and June 2016 a number of natural disasters negatively impacted the infrasound and hydro-acoustic network, disrupting data collection.

Data availability from the Australian Seismic Network 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
90%

91%

The Australian Seismic Network provided continuous data in excess of the targeted rate. Data was also collected from temporary seismometers installed in locations of significant earthquake activity in the Petermann Ranges (NT) and Orange (NSW).

Geomagnetism data collected and added to archive 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
98%

98%

Six of the seven observatories positioned around Australia collecting geomagnetism data performed well with minimal data interruptions. While the overall target of 98 per cent was met, data collection from one observatory was significantly disrupted due to technical issues as a result of a tunnel collapse.

Stakeholder satisfaction with the information available from Geoscience Australia’s website 2015–16 Corporate Plan
2015–16 PBS
80%

81%

This result indicates that the organisation’s stakeholders are highly satisfied that the information on the website is relevant and useful.

Analysis of performance

The successful upgrade of the Alice Springs observatory antenna in 2015–16 facilitated Australia’s membership of a global Earth observation network. This strengthened Geoscience Australia’s relationship with the United States and Europe for Earth observation satellite programmes. The upgrade of the Magnetometer Calibration Facility was also completed during the year. The facility forms an essential service to calibrate magnetic instrumentation used not only by Geoscience Australia, but also by Australian Government departments, universities and industry organisations, especially the aeronautical industry.

Financial performance

Operating result

In 2015–16, Geoscience Australia had an operating deficit of $14.2 million, before adjusting for unfunded depreciation of $8.5 million.

Geoscience Australia’s total income for the year was $163.2 million, comprising $121.3 million in appropriations from government and $41.9 million from the sale of goods and services to related and external entities.

Geoscience Australia’s expenses were $177.4 million. The major expense categories were employee expenses of $75.7 million, supplier expenses of $93.0 million and depreciation of $8.5 million.

The note on departmental budget variances in the financial statements compares the actual results to the original budget disclosed in the 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, as required by the new Australian Accounting Standards Board 1055 Budgetary Reporting accounting standard.

Financial sustainability

Total equity as at 30 June 2016 was $14.4 million. Total assets were $124.2 million. Total liabilities were $109.80 million. Geoscience Australia has sufficient financial assets to pay its suppliers and other payables as and when they fall due. Non-financial assets consist mainly of plant and equipment and property (land and buildings) owned by Geoscience Australia.

Administered items

Geoscience Australia administered one grant on behalf of government in 2015–16. A grant of $0.02 million was made available to the Australian National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for the International Geological Programme.