5489.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/05/2001   
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6.5 Regardless of the reason for requesting a confidentiality restriction, if an individual or organisation has shown that release of certain statistics would be likely to enable the identification of the trade by that individual or organisation, then the ABS is legally required not to further disclose the information.

6.6 In relation to international merchandise trade statistics, the relevant ABS legislation which makes provision for the protection of confidential data is:

  • the Census and Statistics Act 1905, section 19 in conjunction with subsection 12(2), and subsection 13(1); and
  • the Statistics Determination under section 13 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

6.7 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 sets out the rules governing the collection and dissemination of statistics undertaken by the ABS. Clause 2 of the Statistics Determination provides that:

"information in the form of statistics relating to foreign trade, being statistics derived wholly or in part from Customs documents" (Clause 2(2)(b))

".......may, with the approval in writing of the Australian Statistician, be disclosed except where -

(a) in the case of information relating to a person, being an individual - that person;

(b) in the case of information relating to an official body - the responsible Minister in relation to that official body; or

(c) in the case of information relating to an organisation other than an official body - a responsible officer of that organisation,

has shown that such disclosure would be likely to enable the identification of that particular person or organisation." (Clause 2(1))

6.8 This means that international merchandise trade statistics, unlike most other statistics released by the ABS, are subject to a passive confidentiality policy i.e. statistics are able to be released without explicit regard to confidentiality, unless and until an individual or organisation demonstrates that such disclosure would be likely to enable the identification of that person or organisation.

6.9 Application of a passive confidentiality policy is restricted, under Clause 2(2), to a limited range of ABS statistics. Most ABS statistics are subject to an active confidentiality policy (i.e. data are examined and confidentialised prior to their release).

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