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Policy on Pre-Embargo Access to ABS Statistical Releases

To ensure impartiality and integrity of ABS statistics, it is standard ABS policy and practice to make all our statistical releases available on our website to all government, commercial and public users of our statistics, simultaneously, from 11.30 am (Canberra time) on the day of their release. Prior to 11.30 am, all ABS statistics are treated as confidential and regarded as 'under embargo'.

However, given the high level of market and community interest in some statistical series, it is important from a 'public good' perspective that key ministers are able to respond in an informed manner to requests from the media for early comment on the released statistics, thereby avoiding any inadvertent misinterpretation. The ABS also provides access for a range of authorised Wires service providers.

For selected government agencies, a secure "lockup" facility is provided for both market sensitive and a small number of other complex key ABS statistical releases. This enables authorised government officials and ministerial staff time to analyse the release and develop a briefing to be provided to relevant ministers after lifting of the embargo.

Authorised persons attending a lockup are required to remain in a secure room managed by ABS staff, and are prohibited from communicating any information from the statistical release to anyone outside the room, until the embargo is lifted at 11.30 am (Canberra time). Attendees at the lockup are also required to sign security undertakings which include provision for prosecution under the Crimes Act 1914 for anyone who breaches the conditions for attending the lockup.

The following products are approved for provision to authorised persons via ABS-hosted lockups on the morning of the day of their release:

    • Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 5302.0)
    • Labour Force, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 6202.0)
    • Consumer Price Index, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 6401.0)
    • Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product - quarterly (cat. no. 5206.0)
    • International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 5368.0)
    • Housing Finance, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 5609.0)
    • Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 5625.0)
    • Business Indicators, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 5676.0)
    • Labour Price Index, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 6345.0)
    • Producer Price Indexes, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 6427.0)
    • Retail Trade, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 8501.0)
    • Building Approvals, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 8731.0)
    • Australian National Accounts: State Accounts - annual (cat. no. 5220.0)
    • Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia - annual (cat. no. 4510.0)
    • Recorded Crime - Offenders - annual (cat. no. 4519.0)
    • Criminal Courts, Australia - annual (cat. no. 4513.0)
    • Crime Victimisation, Australia - annual (cat. no. 4530.0) - also previously known as Crime and Safety, Australia (cat. no. 4509.0).
    • Construction Work Done, Australia, Preliminary - quarterly (cat. no. 8755.0)

In addition to the above arrangements, and having regard to the complexity of analyses required, a number of Commonwealth Treasury officials have access to Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0) early afternoon on the day before its release.

In exceptional circumstances, approval may be given for additional ad hoc lockups for other key statistical releases. If possible, a public notice of intention to hold this lockup will be published on the ABS website at least six working days in advance of the event. If this is not possible notification of an ad hoc lockup will be made on the ABS website as soon as possible.

The ABS also provides authorised Wires service providers with a shorter secure “lockup” to enable them to prepare, referred to as the "Wires Preparation Service".

The Wires Preparation Service allows access to a limited range of embargoed key statistical products (Category 1 and all but two Category 2 Main Economic Indicators, and one Other Leading Indicator), to authorised Wires service representatives in a secure environment at the ABS NSW office, 44 Market Street, Sydney, 10 minutes prior to their public release at 11:30 am, Canberra time. Wires service providers are not permitted to release any material until the embargo has been lifted at 11.30 am Canberra time. Access to statistics via the Wires Preparation Service is to ensure market sensitive material is accurately represented at the time of public release. It is not intended to facilitate more comprehensive analyses of the statistics; such analyses may be conducted after the embargo is lifted at 11:30 am, Canberra time.

The following Wires service providers attend the Wires Preparation Service:
    • Need To Know
    • Selerity
    • Market News International
    • Thomson Reuters
    • Dow Jones Newswires
    • Bloomberg News
    • AAP.

David Kalisch
Australian Statistician

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