1386.0 - What's New in Regional Statistics, June 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/2011   
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Water Use on Australian Farms, 2009-10
Land Account: Great Barrier Reef Region, Experimental Estimates, 2011


Released on 11 May 2011, Water Use on Australian Farms, 2009-10 (cat. no. 4618.0) presents estimates of agricultural water use (including pastures and crops irrigated), irrigation water sources, irrigation methods, irrigation water management and irrigation expenditure and assets.

Key findings in this release include:

    • Australia's total agricultural water use rose slightly (by 1%) from 7,286 gigalitres in 2008-09 to 7,359 gigalitres in 2009-10. In the same period, increased water use in New South Wales (up by 5%) and Victoria (up by 23%) was partially balanced by decreased water use in Queensland (down by 11%) and South Australia (down by 14%).
    • Of the 399 million hectares of agricultural land in Australia in 2009-10, less than 1% was irrigated. However, 30% of all agricultural businesses undertook irrigation during 2009-10.
    • The amount of irrigation water used by Australia's 41,000 irrigating agricultural businesses increased slightly from 2008-09 to 2009-10, by 1% to 6,956 gigalitres.
    • Groundwater was the major source of agricultural water in South Australia (60%), Western Australia (43%), and Northern Territory (68%). Water supplied by government or private irrigation schemes was the main source of agricultural water in New South Wales (35%), Victoria (59%) and Queensland (41%) while in Tasmania, the main source was surface water (71%).

Estimates are presented at Australia, State/Territory and Murrary-Darling Basin (MDB) and non-MDB levels. Data for a range of sub-state geographic levels, including Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions, Statistical Divisions (SD) and Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) will be released in July 2011.


On 28 February the ABS released Land Account: Great Barrier Reef Region, Experimental Estimates, 2011 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.001).

This release provides integrated social, economic and environment data with spatial location information. Information for the geographic areas released range from small city blocks to sparse agricultural areas, remote communities and Natural Resource Management regions. In this format, the information could be viewed at the community level or brought together for those users wishing to look at larger spatial areas. The release did not require any new statistical collections to be conducted. It was compiled from existing data sources available from Commonwealth and State Government Agencies demonstrating what can be achieved through information sharing – the concept of “create once, use many times”.

The collaboration between agencies in providing information for this release demonstrates the value of the National Statistical Service in building a rich statistical picture for a better informed Australia.

A Google Earth® interface presents a fly over view of the Great Barrier Reef catchment regions, which are divided up into 3,005 small statistical areas. Data windows present more than 70 attributes for each of these small land areas, across the themes:
    • Boundary information
    • Population and business counts
    • Rateable value and land use
    • Dynamic land cover
    • Fire, temperature and rainfall
The ESRI® Geodatabase and Mapinfo® versions can be downloaded from the ABS web site and used as a socio-economic layer in a Geographical Information System (GIS).

The release is the result of collaborative work from a number of government departments to provide, in the one product, a range of available information on land use, land value and land cover. It is hoped this data set will inform debate on a wide range of issues including population settlement, measuring the health of the environment, the sustainable production of goods and services and natural disaster management.

Data are available at NRM and SA1 regional levels. For a sample of the output at the SA1 level, go to the Downloads tab in the release using the link above.