International Statistics Conference Highlights For Thursday, 7 April, Apr 2005

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April 6, 2005
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

International Statistics Conference Highlights For Thursday, 7 April

The International Statistics Institute conference continues tomorrow at Sydney's Darling Harbour Convention Centre.

Thursday 7 April


Statistics in Australia: growth and influence (Harbourside Auditorium 1)

This session will include the following presentations: Australian official statistics, 1822-1945; Statistical research for science and industry - CSIRO; The influence on the ANU on statistics in Australia; and Statistics in the state universities.


ISI President's Invited Paper Meeting (Harbourside Auditorium 2)

This session will include the following presentations: Uses and abuses of statistics in policy making (by Lord Robert May, President of the Royal Society of London); Ethics, confidentiality and data dissemination; and Statistics and the law.

Expanded detail is provided for the following session(s):

Australian Official Statistics 1822-1945: from Blue Books to White Paper (Harbourside Auditorium 1)

Former Australian Statistician, Ian Castles, will discuss Australia's eminent position in statistical reporting, right from its very beginnings in 1822 when official statistics began in Australia.

Australia was the first country with official estimates of national income, published in New South Wales in 1886, and were not emulated by any other country until nearly 40 years later.

According to his paper, while there were differences between each of the colonies, consensus of scholars has been that the official statistics of the Australian colonies in the second half of the nineteenth century has been of the highest international quality, both in content and presentation.

Uses and Abuses of Statistics in Policy Making (Harbourside Auditorium 2)

President of the Royal Society and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government (1995-2000) Lord Robert May, promises to offer "opinionated comment" on applications of statistics to public policy issues, and provide some colourful examples of the kinds of problems that can arise. He will also show the differences that can arise between objective probability estimates and most peoples' intuition.

Lord May points out that these days we encounter statistics in every aspect of our lives: pensions, medical services, weather forecasts, economic indicators, travel times, and much else. At the national and international level, estimates of probability and risk underpin policy decisions and planning on topics as varied as climate change, flooding, biological diversity and conservation efforts, and the control of infectious diseases.

Australian by birth, Lord May holds a Professorship jointly at Oxford University and Imperial College London.

Media are invited to attend these events or any others that they may wish to cover throughout the Session. There are about 1,000 topics on all aspects of statistics from around the world. Many of them would have appeal to specialist reporters. Not since 1967, when the Session was last hosted in Australia, has there been a concentration of statisticians in Australia like this.

If you wish to come, please feel free to call me or send me an email. If you turn up unannounced at the conference please register at the reception desk on arrival.

TV and radio please note: There will be splitter boxes only in Harbourside Auditoriums 1 and 2.

Steve Dangaard
Director ABS Media and Public Affairs
PR Manager for ISI Conference. Tel: 0418 481 757

Detailed program and media releases at