2902.0 - Census Update (Newsletter), Dec 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/2006   
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100 Years and still counting

On 8 December 2005 the Australian Bureau of Statistics celebrated 100 years of service to the people of Australia.

The Bureau celebrated the occasion in all its offices across Australia. The Federal Treasurer, the Hon. Peter Costello, launched proceedings with a speech in the ABS Central office in Canberra.

In addition to wishing the ABS a happy 100th birthday, Mr Costello stressed the important role that the Bureau serves within Australian society and congratulated ABS staff for their continued contribution to the Bureau’s cause.

"I am very proud of the ABS and its people", said Mr Costello. "Our statistical agency provides a vital resource to governments and communities and is held in high esteem around the world".

It was on 8 December 100 years ago that Parliament gave its assent to the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

In the following year George Handley Knibbs was appointed Commonwealth Statistician and the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics was established, with a vision of reliable and objective information which are fundamental to democracy in Australia. From these beginnings the Bureau has continued to evolve in to the organisation we know today.

Fifty years later, in 1956, in what is something of a rarity, the Commonwealth and State governments agreed on an integrated statistical system that served both levels of government as well as the community at large. This integrated system appears to have served Australia well and is certainly superior to the federated system that still operates in some countries.

The national office continued to operate as the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics until 1975 and for much of the period was a branch of Treasury.

The next major change was the transformation of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics into an independent statutory authority known as the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This happened in 1975.

One hundred years of history has provided a fine foundation on which to stand as the ABS addresses the challenges of the future.

For more information about the history of the Australian Bureau of Statistics consult Informing A Nation (cat. no. 1382.0) and Australian Economic Indicators (cat. no. 1350.0).