State Owned Enterprises Minister Duncan Webb announced that the Government will officially commission a review of New Zealand's weather forecasting system. This news comes after over a decade of formal complaints from WeatherWatch and recent news regarding the lack of transparency from NIWA.
Led by Te Tai Ōhanga the Treasury and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Hikina Whakatutuki, the review will commence in September 2023 with the final report expected to be with the Government by February 2024.
WeatherWatch CEO Phil Duncan told REX Today host Dominic George it was a welcome surprise to see the news.
"We're very grateful that they are finally doing this review, it's well overdue," he said.
Duncan explained that not only has there been a significant number of complaints about why NIWA is commercially forecasting against another tax-funded department, but he doesn't believe the Government actually truly understands what NIWA does.
"Even the comments from Minister Webb are still a little bit shocking that they don't really understand what's truly happening."
The mantra from the Labour government that there is competition through private companies, referencing WeatherWatch, but Duncan said their business would not exist if the data, which is funded by the American Government and there actually isn't any privately owned competition in New Zealand weather forecasting.
"If America got rid of their open data, suddenly WeatherWatch might disappear.
"It is very, very disingenuous to suggest that there is an open market when actually it is the Government with 99.9% of the profit and the dominance in the marketplace and 0.1% is WeatherWatch."
He told George that Metservice and NIWA especially have weaponised state assets for commercial gain and completely locked WeatherWatch out of it.
"It would be as if NZTA said we are locking off this road to you because we don't like your business and we're going to charge you $1 million a year to drive on this road.
"I think most of us would think that is wrong and that's what NIWA has basically done with state assets."
Listen to the full chat between WeatherWatch CEO Phil Duncan and Dominic George above.