1218.0 - Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA), 2002  
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Contents >> Chapter 2: The units that are classified >> Units in the Australian system

Units in the Australian system

2.44. The ABS uses an economic statistical units model on the ABS Business Register to describe the characteristics of businesses, and the structural relationships between related businesses. The units model is also used to break groups of related businesses into relatively homogeneous components that can provide data to the ABS.

2.45. In mid-2002, to better use the information available as a result of The New Tax System (TNTS), the ABS changed its economic statistical units model. The new units model allocates businesses to one of two sub-populations. The vast majority of businesses are in what is called the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) maintained population, while the remaining businesses are in the ABS maintained population. Together, these two sub-populations make up the ABS Business Register population.

Financing and producing units

2.46. The units that are classified to economic sectors in either sub-population are described as financing units and are recorded with links to the producing units that they own and finance. The financing units used by the ABS are the enterprise group and enterprise in the ABS maintained population, and the ABN unit in the ATO maintained population. The producing unit is the type of activity unit (TAU) for units in the ABS maintained population and the ABN unit in the ATO maintained population. Producing units are included in the sector of their parent enterprise unit.

2.47. Definitions of all types of units are provided in paragraphs 2.50-2.59.

ATO maintained population

2.48. Most businesses an organisations in Australia need to obtain an ABN. These businesses are then included on the Australian Business Register which is managed by the ATO. Most of these businesses have simple structures. For these businesses the unit registered for an ABN will satisfy ABS statistical requirements, so the ABS has aligned its statistical units structure with the ABN unit. Businesses with simple structures constitute the ATO maintained population because all information about these businesses on the ABS Business Register is maintained by the ATO. The ABN unit is used as the economic statistical unit for all economic collections.

ABS maintained population

2.49. For the population of businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS will maintain its own units structure through direct contact with business. These businesses constitute the ABS maintained population. This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse groups of businesses. A statistical units model has been introduced to describe such businesses.

Enterprise group

2.50. The enterprise group is defined as a unit covering all the operations in Australia of one or more legal entities under common ownership and/or control. It covers all the operations in Australia of legal entities that are related in terms of the current corporations law (as amended by the Corporations Legislation Amendment Act 1991), including legal entities such as companies, trusts and partnerships. Majority ownership is not required for control to be exercised. Enterprise groups often cross sectorial boundaries (with the exception of a mixture of government and private sectors) and consequently are not used to compile sector statistics.


2.51. The enterprise is defined as an institutional unit comprising (1) a single legal entity or business entity; or (2) more than one legal entity or business entity within the same enterprise group and in the same institutional subsector (i.e. they are all classified to a single SISCA subsector). (Institutional subsectors are described in Chapter 3.)

Type of activity unit

2.52 The TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within and enterprise group and can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU will be created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU will be classified to the relevant subdivision of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU will be formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision. In this instance, the TAU will be classified to the predominant industry subdivision.

Legal entity

2.53. The legal entity is defined as a unit covering all the operations in Australia of an entity that possesses some or all of the rights and obligations of individual persons or corporations; or that behaves as such, in respect of those matters of concern for economic statistics. Examples of legal entities for statistical purposes include companies, partnerships, trusts, sole proprietorships, government departments, and statutory authorities.

2.54. Each legal entity must be classified to an institutional subsector before individual enterprise units can be formed.

2.55. The ABS legal entity unit is considered to closely approximate the SNA93 concept of an institutional unit. An institutional unit is defined as an economic entity that is capable, in its own right, of owning assets, incurring liabilities and engaging in economic activities and transactions with other entities. The legal entity unit is defined as an entity with all of the rights and obligations of individual persons or corporations; or that behaves as such, in respect of those matters of concern for economic statistics. The 'rights and obligations of individuals' etc. that are of concern for economic statistics are considered to be the same as the capabilities (to own assets etc.) referred to in the institutional unit definition (see paragraph 2.4).

2.56. One variation is that for statistical purposes the ABS includes, as legal entities, some government departments and authorities (as noted in paragraph 2.33) (e.g. government schools) and some nonprofit institutions (e.g. church parishes) that have registered for an ABN that do not meet the SNA93 criteria for classification as separate institutional units. These units are actually sub-legal entities in a legal sense.

2.57. The ABS Business Register records unincorporated enterprises (e.g. sole proprietorships, partnerships, family trusts) that are owned/operated by one or more households and have registered for an ABN. Unincorporated enterprises that have not registered for an ABN are out of scope of the ABN Business Register. Households that do not operate unincorporated enterprises are out of scope of the ABS Business Register. Economic statistics covering all households (including unincorporated enterprises that have not registered for an ABN) are produced from sources other than register-based surveys, such as population censuses, household surveys, and taxation statistics.

2.58. Legal entities are classified to an institutional subsector. In the ATO maintained population, the legal entity equates to the ABN unit. In the ABS maintained population, enterprise units are formed comprising one or more legal entities in the same subsector.

2.59. Given that the ABS enterprise unit can contain sub-legal entities, it is a different institutional unit than that defined by SNA93.

2.60. The relationship between real world entities (i.e. legal entities) and the ABS economic statistical units model can be depicted diagrammatically as follows:

Diagram: Relationships between units in the Australian system

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