RESPONSE TO MEASURING AUSTRALIA'S PROGRESS
Measuring Australia's Progress (MAP), a new ABS publication, was launched by the Australian Statistician on 4 April 2002. MAP was developed by Analysis Branch with a great deal of assistance from colleagues in the ABS and elsewhere. It uses a set of indicators to help readers assess whether the economic, social and environmental aspects of life in Australia progressed over the 1990s.
Informing the discussion about national progress is one of the most important tasks that a statistical agency can take on. However, it is also likely to provoke vigorous debate, because there is no universal agreement regarding what dimensions of progress are most important, or what indicators best encapsulate those dimensions. MAP is a deliberately experimental publication, and the Statistician's foreword invites readers to comment on it.
Comments received since MAP was launched have been predominantly favourable. Many articles appeared in the press. Noted commentator Ross Gittins observed in the Sydney Morning Herald that "the Bureau of Statistics, for instance, issues some new stats most days, many of which get a lot of media attention, but rarely does it issue anything as remotely important as Measuring Australia's Progress".
At seminars around the country, audiences were very supportive. At least two States are now considering compiling similar measures at the State level.
However the comments have not all been favourable. Some commentators have argued that MAP should be underpinned by a more overt conceptual framework. Some have expressed disappointment that the ABS has not presented indicators for some dimensions of progress (such as the quality of national, business and community governance). Some disagreed with the choice and balance of progress indicators.
In October 2002, the ABS will host a workshop in which government, academic, community and other representatives will be asked to review the publication and to offer their views on the future course of progress measurement. The ABS will then consider what further work it might undertake.
The whole first issue of Measuring Australia's Progress (Cat. no. 1370.0) can be downloaded from ABS@ and this site.
For more information, please contact Jon Hall on (02) 6252 7221.