A wide range of economic data is available to analyse the performance of various components of the Australian economy over time. For example, data are regularly published on the number of houses being built, the number of cars produced, whether employment is rising or falling, the composition of exports and imports, and so on. While these and other statistical series are important in their own right, none of them in isolation can provide an overall picture of the state of the economy.
National accounts are designed to provide a systematic summary of national economic activity and have been developed to assist in the practical application of economic theory. The system of national accounts includes national income, expenditure and product accounts, financial accounts, the national balance sheet and input-output tables. At their summary level, the national income, expenditure and product accounts reflect key economic flows: production, the distribution of incomes, consumption, saving and investment. At their more detailed level, they are designed to present a statistical picture of the structure of the economy and the detailed processes that make up domestic production and its distribution. The financial accounts show the financial assets and liabilities of the nation and of each institutional sector, the market for financial instruments and inter-sectoral financial transactions. The balance sheet is a comprehensive statement of produced and non-produced assets, liabilities to the rest of the world and net worth. Input-output tables show which goods and services are produced by each industry and how they are used.
The national accounts include many detailed classifications (e.g. by industry, by purpose, by commodity, by state and territory, and by asset type) relating to major economic aggregates.
The National accounts includes an article Impact of the drought on Australian production in 2002-03.