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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
    The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham

    Carole King was right: the earth is moving under your feet

    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
    The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham

    Wednesday, October 23, 2019

    Carole King was right: the earth is moving under your feet

    Queensland is on the move and a Bill before Parliament is going to help us catch up, so we can get where we want to go.

    Natural Resources Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham today introduced legislation into Parliament to change the “reference frame” for location information used in natural resources and transport legislation.

    And he’s doing it, literally because the earth’s crust has moved.

    “Currently we are using reference point data from 1994 and by next year, Australia will have moved about 1.8 metres to the north-east since those points were set,” he said.

    “We rely on location information in many ways from getting to places using our smartphones to running automated technology remotely, such as driverless cars and tractors, mining equipment and drones.

    “The practical effect of this legislation is that location information like GPS will be spot on, once again.”

    Currently Australia is using a spatial reference frame that is a quarter of a century old – the Geocentric Datum Australia 1994 (GDA94). 

    Movement in the Earth’s surface occurs naturally, and this is the third time the national reference frame has been updated since 1966.

    As part of the latest round of updates, Queensland is working with other Australian governments to pair up national coordinates with global positioning systems. New Zealand will also update its data.

    Dr Lynham said Queensland’s business systems, laws, data and processes would need to be geared and ready for GDA2020. 

    “Updating to GDA2020 will benefit businesses in construction, agriculture, insurance, emergency services, mapping, surveying, transport, tourism, environmental management, scientific research, automation, telecommunications and entertainment,” he said.

    “We’re working closely with the spatial information sector to transition systems, data and processes so they are ready to adopt GDA2020 by 30 June 2020.”

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    GDA94 coordinates tell us where things are in Australia—but these coordinates locate features as if the location of our continental tectonic plate was fixed in 1994.

    Our tectonic plate moves about 7cm per year.

    Global satellite positioning systems have a coordinate framework fixed to the centre of the earth, rather than our tectonic plate. These systems regularly adjust to account for plate movement.

    However, the difference between Australia's current geocentric datum and global positioning systems will soon be obvious—even to smartphone users—so they need to be aligned.


    Media contact: Jan Martin 0439 341 314