To contribute to the effective development of Australia's statistical assets, by providing the Minister and the Statistician with independent, relevant and timely advice on national priorities.
The Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC, the Council) was established by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 (the ABS Act). Under subsection 18(1) of the ABS Act, the Council is to advise the Minister and the Australian Statistician on:
- the improvement, extension and co-ordination of statistical services provided for public purposes in Australia;
- annual and longer term priorities and programs of work that should be adopted in relation to major aspects of the provision of those statistical services; and
- any other matters relating generally to those statistical services.
Subsection 24(1) of the ABS Act provides that: the Council must, as soon as practicable after 30 June in each year, prepare and submit to the Minister, for presentation to the Parliament, a report relating to matters connected with the operation of this Act.
The ABS Act enables both the relevant Minister and the Australian Statistician to seek advice from the Council on these matters. The Australian Statistician keeps the Council informed of key developments related to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Chairperson meets with the Minister and Australian Statistician as appropriate to ensure relevant advice and assistance from the Council are made available to them.
Role and operations of the council
ASAC contributes to ABS decision-making regarding statistical priorities and helps inform its assessment of risks and appropriate strategies. ASAC also advocates for a national statistical system that is adequately resourced and effectively managed.
The ABS Act provides that the Council shall consist of a part-time Chairperson, the Australian Statistician (ex officio), and between 10 and 22 part-time members, including a senior official from each state and territory nominated by the Premier or Chief Minister. In addition, the Council includes representatives from academia, business and community sectors. Council members are appointed for their ability to identify emerging issues and assist in promoting greater coordination nationally.
During 2021–22, the Ministers responsible for the ABS and ASAC were the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer (until the May 2022 Federal Election), and then the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. The Minister appoints the Council Chairperson and members for five and three years respectively. Members are eligible for reappointment when their terms expire. The names and positions of members as at 30 June 2022 are detailed at Appendix 1.
The Council typically meets three times a year in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney by rotation. Formal meetings have been adapted to ensure adequate health and safety measures have been undertaken in response to COVID-19. The Council may also interact out of session on any specific matters requiring its attention.
The Chairperson receives an annual fee as set by the Remuneration Tribunal, with other members serving in an honorary capacity. Members receive a prescribed travel allowance, where applicable, to support their attendance at meetings.
The office of the ASAC Secretary is held by Michael Smedes, acting General Manager, Social Statistics Division. Costs associated with the operations of ASAC are met from the ABS budget, and secretariat services are provided by ABS staff as part of their wider duties. Council secretariat services include:
- arranging and supporting meetings
- administering ASAC activities and membership
- assisting with preparation of its Annual Report
- drafting submissions, correspondence or papers issued under the authority of the Council or the Chairperson.