As an island nation, Australia relies heavily on the marine environment, a fact which has received recognition through a number of recent government initiatives to enhance the monitoring of the nation's coastal and ocean environments. These, together with Australia's existing monitoring programs, provide a base on which the groups planning Australia's contribution to GOOS hope to build. A scientific plan identifying required components is being prepared. The needs of Australia and the existing and potential users of an Australian regional observing system provide the principal motivation for the design strategy. Implementation will rely on both initiatives of existing agencies and opportunities arising from new government policies such as the National Oceans Policy.