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Australia is heading north riding the continental plate, which means the country’s mapping co-ordinates are being realigned approximately 1.8 metres north-east, it was announced on Friday.

“Australians are on the move and they’re all heading north – even though the vast majority won’t realise it,’’ Matt Canavan, minister for resources and northern Australia, said in a statement.

The continental shift at a rate of seven centimetres a year means Australia’s national coordinate reference frame (the Geocentric Datum of Australia 2020) has to be updated, for the first time in over two decades.

“The movement is significant when it comes to applications that rely on highly accurate satellite positioning, including in agriculture, and location-based services and other operations,’’ Canavan said.

Without the re-coordination, the difference could amount to an error of length big enough to cause problems for anything that uses global navigation satellite systems, like GPS in Smartphone and cars.

“Scientists have chosen to base the new coordinates on the projected position of the Australian continent on Jan. 1, 2020, adding an extra three years of ‘working life’ to the new data,’’ Cavanan said.

Michelle Landry, an Australian lawmaker, said she was surprised to learn that Australia sits on the fastest-moving continental plate on the planet.

“Since Aborigines first arrived in this region some 50,000 years ago, Australia has moved about three-and-a-half kilometres.

“In fact, at its present speed, all of Australia will be north of the Tropic of Capricorn in just 30 million years, massively changing the geography of the entire region.

“I think that’s fascinating,’’ Landry said in a statement.

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