The five-yearly Census of Population and Housing is the ABS’s largest single collection. Preparation for the 2001 Census conducted on 7 August was a major focus of 2000-01. Key aspects of development were finalisation of the data content and proposed outputs from the Census. The user community was advised of the outcomes with the release of the publication 2001 Census of Population and Housing, Proposed Products and Services (Cat. no. 2011.0). A key outcome during the year has been the systems development for the processing of the Census including the introduction of intelligent character recognition techniques for capturing the information from the Census forms. Linked to that were the arrangements for ensuring that appropriate measures were in place to transfer Census records (for those persons who have consented) to the National Archives for retention for a non-access period of 99 years, after which they will be released for those individuals who indicated they wanted their records retained, that is, the Time Capsule Project . Given its importance a feature article, on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, is provided in Chapter 4.
As part of the developmental work for the 2001 Census, the ABS produced an award winning Census CD-ROM based product which provides primary school students with an interactive learning device on the benefits of the five-yearly Census of Population and Housing.
The introduction of The New Tax System from 1 July 2000 affected a range of ABS economic collections. During 2000-01, the ABS published two special articles on the impact of TNTS on ABS price series. The first, ‘Measuring the Impact of The New Tax System on the September Quarter 2000 Consumer Price Index’, was released in the December 2000 issue of Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0). The second article, ‘Analytical Living Cost Indexes for Selected Australian Household Types’ was included in the June 2001 issue. This article presented living cost indexes for four household subgroups - employees, age pensioners, other government transfer recipients, and self-funded retirees. The indexes are designed to assess the impact of changes in prices on the disposable income of households.
The transition to TNTS has also provided the ABS with an opportunity to incorporate a number of improvements into the quality and efficiency of statistical operations. In particular, changes were made to the ABS Business Register to include Australian Business Numbers (ABN), which have improved details and coverage on the register, and have enabled better identification and communication with businesses recorded on the register. Taxation data, including Business Activity Statements (BAS) continued to be analysed as possible alternatives to direct collection or to improve sample efficiency and reduce provider load. Further, the ABS continued investigations into strategies to improve and expand the range of State/regional statistics available through utilisation of State/regional BAS data.
The 14th Series Consumer Price Index (CPI) was introduced in the September quarter 2000 publication. A major motivation for the introduction of the 14th Series was to ensure that the CPI continued to be a reliable measure of price inflation after the introduction of TNTS. Key changes in the 14th series included a new utility-based commodity classification to better address possible consumer substitution between commodities as prices change, and the updating of weights to take into account the results from the 1998-99 Household Expenditure Survey. A Guide to the Consumer Price Index, 14th Series (Cat. no. 6440.0) was subsequently released in December 2000. The ABS also released an experimental constant rate tax measure in the November 2000 edition of Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0). The indicator assessed the direct or first round effects of TNTS on the prices of consumer goods and services.
A new Producers’ Price Index publication, entitled Stage of Production Producer Price Indexes, Australia (Cat. no. 6426.0), was released in July 2000 in respect of the June quarter 2000. The indexes were compiled using the stage of production concept which enables the sequential impacts of inflation through the economy to be analysed.
A major launch in October 2000 accompanied the release of Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account, 1997-98 (Cat. no. 5249.0), which presented the first ABS estimates of the contribution of tourism to the Australian economy. Another key release was Unpaid Work and the Australian Economy, 1997 (Cat. no. 5240.0), which presented estimates of unpaid work relative to gross domestic product.
There were a number of significant developments in International and Financial Accounts statistics in 2000-01. Two reference publications were released during the year. These include a revised edition of A Guide to Australian Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Statistics (Cat. no. 5362.0.55.001), and a new publication, International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001 (Cat. no. 5489.0). Special articles were published in the quarterly Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (Cat. no. 5302.0) on the foreign ownership of equity, and an updated article on the effects of the Sydney Olympic Games on the balance of payments estimates. Improving State statistics is a high priority for the ABS. One important initiative was the release of an Information Paper analysing the investment of private new capital expenditure in Western Australia by ownership group (foreign owned or Australian owned enterprises) (Cat. no. 5674.5), and a special article on the same topic (for Australia and all States and Territories) in Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0).
The ABS continued consultation with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Reserve Bank of Australia, and data providers on updated data requirements from regulated financial institutions, and the new APRA information systems to support revised collections. The objective is to reduce the workload on businesses by making greater use of APRA datasets. The ABS, with support from the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, also released, for the first time, statistics on venture capital investments in a special article in Managed Funds, Australia (Cat. no. 5655.0).
Statistics on the take-up and use of information technology continued to be a high priority for the ABS in 2000-01. A number of information technology publications were released in 2000-01 including the first in a new series presenting annual statistics measuring business use of information technology including use of the Internet and e-commerce:Business Use of Information Technology 1999-2000, Australia (Cat. no. 8129.0). Also released during the year were statistics on the use of information technology on farms, Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia, 1998-99 (Cat. no. 8150.0), which included regional statistics on use of computers and the Internet; and, expanded details of household use of information technology through Household Use of Information Technology, 1999, Australia (Cat. no. 8146.0); and results from a new quarterly survey of Internet Service Providers in Internet Activity, Australia (Cat. no. 8153.0).
Commencing from the March quarter 2001, the Quarterly Economic Activity Survey replaced the existing quarterly surveys of inventories and sales, and company profits. These changes will significantly reduce provider load for small businesses, as well as improving the coherence of these statistics.
In response to ongoing demand for statistics on rural and regional Australia, the ABS established a National Centre for Rural and Regional Statistics in the South Australian Office. The centre has four main tasks: to promote better understanding of rural and regional issues and to coordinate statistical information on the topic; to investigate and tap Commonwealth departments as sources of rural and regional data to complement available State data; to develop a statistical framework, and new regional indicators, which would facilitate comparison across different regions in Australia; and to make regional data more accessible to the general public.
The eighth edition of Australian Social Trends (Cat. no. 4102.0) was released in July 2000. As in previous years, this publication provided a range of articles on social issues and received extensive media coverage. Developmental work is well advanced on a new publication Measuring Social Wellbeing (Cat. no. 4160.0), which will describe the conceptual frameworks underpinning ABS work in social statistics. The ABS also prepared a discussion paper on Measuring Social Capital: Current Collections and Future Directions which has been circulated to a wide range of users to engender discussion and to seek input on options for future work on this issue.
Work commenced on the first stage of the rolling ten-year Household Survey Program. This program will increase the flexibility and capacity of the ABS to provide statistics to inform debate on key social policy issues. 2000-01 saw the development and conduct of the first of a three-yearly program of national health surveys under a funding partnership with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care. Developmental work is also well advanced on the 2002 General Social Survey, the 2002 Indigenous Social Survey, and the 2001 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey.
Following on from the establishment of a National Centre for Education and Training Statistics, the ABS formed an Education and Training Statistics Advisory Group to provide the ABS with expert advice on matters such as user requirements and priorities for education and training statistics. The ABS also completed development and started the enumeration of a Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology. This household survey will provide detailed information about education and training in Australia, with results expected to be published in May 2002.
The ABS continues to expand its analytical capability. During the year considerable progress was made in the development of a major new suite of statistical indicators - Measuring Australia’s Progress. More information on this and other research work undertaken by the ABS is presented in a feature article, Research and Analysis in the ABS, which is included in Chapter 3.
Significant progress was made during the year in developing a program of Indigenous statistics which will enable users to monitor the social wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. In 2000-01, the ABS prepared a report on Community Services Principles and Standards for Indigenous Client Data, endorsed by the Community Services Ministerial Advisory Council. The ABS has worked towards improving the quality, availability and use of Indigenous administrative data on births, deaths, and hospital separations, as part of the plan for improving Indigenous statistics from administrative collections. Experimental labour force estimates for Indigenous Australians were published in Labour Force Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (Cat. no. 6287.0), while the third edition of The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (Cat. no. 4704.0), is to be released in August 2001. In conjunction with the release of the 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Housing Characteristics, Costs and Conditions, 1999 (Cat. no. 4182.0), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (Cat. no. 4712.0), were also published.
There were a number of developments in labour statistics in 2000-01. An important new release was Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (Cat. no. 6361.0), which provided information about the diversity of employment arrangements in the Australian labour market, and about superannuation coverage in Australia. During the year, a redesigned questionnaire for the labour force survey was implemented which resulted in consequent revisions to core labour force series, and publication of two Information Papers: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (Cat. no. 6295.0), and Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (Cat. no. 6232.0). The ABS also released the reference publication Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 6102.0) on the ABS website (to be published in hard copy in August 2001). This publication provides a comprehensive description of the concepts underpinning ABS labour statistics, and the methods used in compiling these statistics from various sources. Two Occasional Papers containing in-depth analyses of selected data from the Longitudinal Survey of Employment and Unemployment Patterns (Cat. no. 6293.0 series) were also published.
Publications on crime released in 2000-01 included Recorded Crime, Australia, 2000 (Cat. no. 4510.0), Higher Criminal Courts, Australia 1999-2000 (Cat. no. 4513.0), and Prisoners in Australia, 2000 (Cat. no. 4517.0). The latter was a new publication which contained a range of information on prisoner characteristics by type of prisoner, such as sentenced prisoners, unsentenced prisoners (remandees), Indigenous prisoners, federal prisoners and periodic detainees.
During 2000-01 the ABS continued to make significant progress in terms of its role in the coordination, standardisation, collection and dissemination of environment and energy statistics. In 2000-01, the ABS released Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Accounts for Australia, 1992-93 to 1997-98 (Cat. no. 4604.0). In addition to comprehensive information on direct energy consumption and generation of selected greenhouse gas emissions by industries and households, the publication contained information on the indirect impacts of household consumption, Australia’s exports, capital formation and government final consumption. Further, significant progress was made towards the redevelopment of the Environment Management Survey which will be conducted in 2001-02 in respect of the Manufacturing and Mining industries.
During the year the ABS was involved in the review activities of the State of the Environment Report which is to be published by Environment Australia in the second half of this year. I am a member of the Australian State of the Environment Committee.
The Australian and New Zealand Standard Product Classification (Cat. no. 1254.0.55.001) was released in June 2001. This classification was derived from the international Central Product Classification, published by the United Nations, and included a substantially improved coverage of services, as well as commodities. It can be accessed via the ABS website. The ABS and Statistics New Zealand also commenced a review of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), (Cat. no. 1292.0). Since the last review of ANZSIC some ten years ago, many changes have occurred in the fabric of the economy, particularly in the rapid growth and diversification of services industries. Work on the Australian Standard Classification of Education was also completed and agreement reached with various educational institutions and agencies to use the classifications in their future data collections.