At last- 15 days after their widely publicised initial claims (through Mr Jeff Sabburg) that in 2014 Queensland had rain deficiencies not seen since the 1927-1929 drought, and that 37.3% of the State had the lowest rainfall on record- the Bureau has replied to my complaint.
After the Bureau’s initial perfunctory response on Monday 12 January, I asked for straight answers to whether the claims were correct, and would the Bureau correct them in a Media Release.
This morning, 21 January, I received this email:
Further to our correspondence we can confirm that media statements made to the ABC by a Bureau employee on 6 January 2014 did not accurately reflect the relative severity of the current Queensland rainfall deficiencies. Unfortunately the Bureau spokesperson misinterpreted some of the information. We have advised the ABC of the inaccuracy and asked them for an opportunity to update the story, if possible.
Climate Analysis Section
So the answers to those questions were “No”, “No”, and “No, a media release would be too embarrassing and out of the question, so we’ll just advise the ABC and trust this will be buried as old news”.
I will therefore contact other media outlets (e.g. the Queensland Country Life which also ran the story), with a reminder to ABC Queensland Editor Genevieve Hussey, hoping that people across Queensland are made aware that the drought conditions (terrible as they were and still are for many) were not as bad as reported.
While this is a satisfying outcome for me, it is over two weeks since these “inaccuracies” were widely reported across Queensland in the three media that rural people mostly turn to: ABC Radio Country Hour, ABC TV 7.00 p.m. News, and the Queensland Country Life. I cannot believe that no one in the Bureau saw these reports and did anything about the falsehood, but I’m not surprised.
If you make a mistake, own up quickly, or trust will dry up faster than the rain.