5269.0.55.001 - Information Paper: A Future Australian Transport Satellite Account: ABS Views, 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/10/2011  First Issue
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Proposed scope of the TrSA

6.1 In deciding what an initial Australian TrSA would look like, some key factors need to be taken into consideration, which are intrinsically linked to the definition of transport we are measuring, namely:

  1. To provide a degree of credibility and compatibility with National Accounts frameworks and outputs, the initial TrSA would:
    1. Re-define transport activity undertaken in non-transport industries so as to treat it as “output” of the broader “transport industry”.
    2. Maintain consistency with the SNA central framework, i.e., as households are considered consumers and not “producers” in the SNA, any transport activity undertaken by households would not be treated as production in the initial TrSA. Rather than putting a proxy price on the transport services households are providing to themselves, only expenditure by households in consuming transport products and services (ie. purchasing, operating and maintaining their vehicles) is included in GDP.
  2. The Australian TrSA should be scoped in such a way so as to meet Australian policy needs and aid future efforts to establish international comparability. Consistency with the production boundary of SNA would also aid this. A “transport boundary” that is consistent with existing international industry and product classification systems would support this approach.
  3. While aiming to answer a range of transport policy questions, the initial attempt at a TrSA would be restricted in scope to what is achievable given the considerable conceptual, valuation and data limitations initially faced. In the longer term, opportunities to expand the boundary of the TrSA including links to other data sources are expected to be explored as international standards, methods and data sources evolve.

6.2 As a result of research into available sources, methods and priorities from the consultation process, the following scope is recommended for a possible future Australian TrSA:
  • Transport boundary would be measured from the supply-side. As in the United States approach, it is proposed the Australian TrSA would likely measure for-hire and own-account transport services from the supply-side, and comprise only services that move people or goods. This approach is consistent with the way the existing transport activity is treated in the SNA, except that it would also recognise own-account transport activity. This framework would facilitate the interdependencies between transport and the rest of the economy. A supply side approach is distinct from a demand-side measure (see Para 5.4) that would include activities such as manufacturing of transport vehicles and demand for motor vehicles, fuel and motor vehicle insurance by consumers and other end users. Consultations to date suggested there is limited demand for data on transport goods, although there is interest in acquiring detailed infrastructure data. However, there may be policy interest in some of the components of demand for transport goods and services, e.g. household use of fuels, household consumption of public transport services and household consumption of active transport services.
  • The ABS may group data to ensure compliance with its confidentiality obligations. Subject to this constraint, data may be split according to passenger/freight activity and modal data (e.g. air, rail, water). Own-account transport would probably be shown as a single sub-industry, although the share of the various industries to this broader industry may also be published. That said, there are known issues which would limit what can be published, such as confidentiality around air-passenger transport services.
  • ABS would produce a national TrSA. The ABS does not produce State input-output or supply-use tables so it would not be possible to provide a breakdown of the TrSA by State and Territory. However, the development of a national methodology for TrSA, together with a set of national transport supply-use tables, would help modellers to potentially develop State TrSAs as has happened with tourism (noting that the State based data would need to be modelled as it is not available from the Economic Activity Survey).
  • The feasibility of publicly releasing details from the transport supply-use table (used to construct the TrSA) would need to be investigated. It is recognised that there is significant user interest in the details of the transport supply-use account data which is used in the estimation of transport GDP. In the case of the Tourism Satellite Account, not all of the data in the supply-use table was released. The ABS would need to make an assessment of the quality of the data closer to the time of release, but recognise there is strong demand for it.
  • Wider Transport employment data would be explored. Consultations with users clearly indicated that employment numbers and characteristics of transport workers are of a high priority, particularly age, part-time/full time splits and hours worked information. The extent that this data would be made available would be subject to quality constraints.
  • The release of transport physical or volume data to supplement the monetary accounts would need to be considered. There have been clear messages from the consultations to date that physical or volume data e.g. passenger or freight kilometres are of importance to users. The ABS could release supplementary tables of physical data to support the accounts.
  • Options to estimate profits on own-account transport activity would need to be explored. The United States’ TrSA did not estimate gross operating surplus (GOS) on own-account transport activity, and it was acknowledged the contribution of transport to GDP was therefore underestimated. Options would be explored on how such a mark-up for operating surplus could be made.
  • All transport margins (invoiced or not) would be included where possible. Subject to their consistent treatment in the supply-use tables in the ASNA, it is proposed that the full cost of transport activity from margins be included in transport GDP whether they are separately invoiced or not (i.e. the cost may just be added into the purchase price of the good). This is consistent with demands for ABS input-output tables to provide transport margins data along the same lines, as it is the activity that we are trying to measure regardless of whether it is separately invoiced or not.

Table 1: Scope of Transport Activity for an Australian TrSA

Industry Provider of TransportationInclusions(a)Comments
ANZSIC Division I (for-hire)ANZSIC Division I (for-hire) output comprising:
  • Primary transport activities; and,
    • transport of passengers and freight by road, rail, water or air;
    • postal services, pipeline transport and scenic and sightseeing transport;
    • provision of goods warehousing and storage activities; and
    • provision of support services for the transport of passengers and freight.
Theoretically, any secondary income from non-transport activities should be removed. However, this would require changing the value added of Division I in the ASNA. The ABS would look at the significance, and nature, of secondary activities as reported before making a final decision.

Own-account transport activities of ANZSIC Division I should also be estimated, although this would be difficult in practice as it relies on the separate identification of transport related inputs for own-use rather than those used to produce outputs.
Non-transport industries (all other ANZSIC divisions)The following activities would be redefined to a separate 'Own-account transport industry':
  • Secondary transport activities of non-transport industries (e.g. transport services provided for a third party and price is associated with this).
  • Own account/ancillary transport activities of non-transport industries: these are supporting transport activities undertaken to create conditions within which primary and secondary activities of a business can be carried out. Output is not intended for use outside the enterprise.
Ideally, secondary transport activities would remain as output of the non-transport industry that produces them. In practice, the transport related inputs of the ancillary production process would be difficult to separately identify from the secondary production process.
(a) The boundary issue of road/rail maintenance is covered in Para 7.36.

Scope of own-account Transport Activity

6.3 In addition to the above points, the own-account production of transport services to be included in the TrSA would be restricted to the movement of people or freight in the transport system that could potentially be outsourced to transport units in ANZSIC Division I.

6.4 This excludes transport activity that cannot be disentangled from the primary production process of the unit, and therefore cannot be outsourced to a specialist third party provider. The key objective is to provide a comprehensive picture for a type of service (transport services) which is characterised by its ability to be produced either on own-account (for own-use) or by a specialist third party provider.

6.5 There are a range of conceptual issues/boundary cases which are not yet resolved. These would be subject to further research should a TrSA proceed. However, following the principles above some examples of borderline cases covered by this definition include:
  • non-freight carrying trucks, such as waste collection services or street cleaning services, where the transport activity cannot be disentangled from the waste collection process, and the service cannot be outsourced to a unit classified to Division I;
  • police and emergency services patrols and response producing their primary output concurrently with supporting transport activity, these cannot be disentangled from their activities (to be produced by a separate for-hire or ancillary unit);
  • construction vehicles registered for road use e.g. vehicles designed for construction and not for transporting goods or passengers; and,
  • on-site transport, such as fork-lifts in distribution centres or on-site mining and farming activities (although it is noted that on-site mining transport activity may have some policy interest and might be reasonably significant).

6.6 The business use of corporate cars could potentially be outsourced to taxi services or public transport. These for-hire transport services though do have differences to the use of corporate cars, as they are not available on demand or for partial private use and in many cases would not be a feasible substitute. It could be argued that the use of corporate cars is always treated as an intermediate input, and there is not a matching for-hire activity. While measurement issues would make the derivation of this type of own-account production of transport services difficult, there are no theoretical constraints to including this activity within own account transport activity.

Proposed coverage of the TrSA

6.7 With the “scope” of the TrSA defining the overall boundary of the proposed satellite account, issues such as data availability, measurement difficulties and data quality need to be considered when assessing the “coverage” of the TrSA. A range of coverage issues have been considered to date taking into account the priorities/data constraints and measurement difficulties mentioned above.

6.8 Some of the key exclusions proposed are listed below:
  • Measurement of own-account transport support activity likely to be excluded. Own-account production of transport support services (e.g. logistics) may prove conceptually difficult to measure in the initial iteration of the Australian TrSA, except to the extent that these are generally undertaken by the producer of modal transport services. This is due to the difficulty in identifying transport related inputs that are unique to this type of activity that could be used in a similar approach to that proposed in Section 7 below for modal transport activities.
  • Value of non-motorised transport activities would be excluded. To maintain links to the core National Accounts, no valuation of the activity is recommended for inclusion in the accounts (as it would be treating households as producers of transport services). However, options to include data on the volume of active transport, e.g. walking and cycling, would be considered.
  • Transport assets/infrastructure data would be excluded. There was limited demand for a capital stock estimate (volume or value perspective) for the transport industry, with the focus more on the flows of activity. The priority at the initial establishment stage of the TrSA would be to produce an estimate of transport contribution to GDP. Options to measure transport assets may be explored in the future, subject to demand and/or data availability.
  • Transport services provided by households for their own use to be excluded in the estimates of transport value-added in the initial TrSA. Para. 6.2 outlines the key reasons for its exclusion. It is recognised that such information may be useful for analytical purposes and options to include such services would be explored in subsequent TrSAs. For the reasons mentioned above, such information, if provided, would be likely to be supplementary to the accounts rather than directly included.

6.9 While the Australian Tourism Satellite Account (ATSA) also maintains consistency with the SNA production boundary, it does include a household’s provision of dwelling services to itself, as does the Australian System of National Accounts. This is classified to the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) “Ownership of dwellings" Industry, which produces actual and imputed rental services, being regarded as characteristic of, and therefore counted as contributing to tourism. This area of production is necessarily treated within the production boundary of the ASNA in order to avoid conceivable volatility in GDP that would otherwise arise due to structural shifts in the ownership mix of the nation’s dwelling stock between owner-occupiers and investors. Note though, that a household’s provision of transport services to itself (e.g. driving the family to a holiday destination) is excluded from measurement of tourism output.

6.10 There is recognition that we do not want to ignore interest in monitoring the extent of any modal shifts, e.g. cars to public transport or cycling. At present there are a number of household travel surveys conducted by State and Territory transport departments across Australia which capture travel behaviour in the capital city CBD areas. The ABS will be working through the Australian Transport Data Action Network (ATDAN) to help facilitate coherence and consistency in these collections to allow comparisons across these regions. Further, there are a range of physical (volume) data at the national level which may be able to assist with trend analysis, e.g. Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use (ABS Cat. No. 4602.0.55.002) and Census. Options would be explored in relation to publishing some of this key data in supplementary tables to the TrSA.