1395.0 - Essential Statistical Assets for Australia, 2013  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/03/2013  First Issue
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Overall, the submissions and feedback highlighted broad in-principle support for the ESA for Australia initiative and recognition that high quality social, economic and environmental official statistics are fundamental to government and the community. There is also recognition that the demand for statistics is growing rapidly and putting increasing pressure on existing resources.

Stakeholders’ comments focused on the inclusion/exclusion of statistics, as well as taking the opportunity to raise a number of other issues, the most common of which include:

  • the impact for statistics not on the list;
  • the governance of the list in prioritising and protecting investment in statistics;
  • the criteria used to determining essentiality;
  • the relative importance of each criterion;
  • the need for future statistical requirements to be identified;
  • alignment and collaboration with other initiatives; and
  • ambiguity over statistical labels.

Other comments included the name of the initiative, placing a larger focus on progress aspirations (criterion 2) and possible alternative approaches for developing the list, including the use of an independent board.

This focus on conceptual and implementation issues is understandable given that it is a new initiative; however, it has resulted in some aspects of the preliminary list, such as the disaggregations and spatial requirements receiving less attention. As the initiative evolves in the future, and stakeholders can observe how all aspects of the list and each phase contribute to outcomes, it is expected that these aspects will receive greater attention. They will also be explored further in the quality assessment phase.

In particular, there were some concerns that applying a national approach to the list may mask those statistics that are important at a local or regional level. It is important to reinforce that the focus of the initiative is at the Australia level. Further work will be undertaken in relation to the spatial requirements which will assist in this aspect, in addition to the work for complementary initiatives at a sub-national level.

The consultation process also provided a platform for the ABS to discuss other important statistical issues with stakeholders, such as the public release of information and data access, data integration and confidentiality principles, statistical infrastructure and statistical capability. These are also important priorities for the advancement of the NSS, and the ABS is keen to continue pursuing these priorities with willing partner agencies in addition to the ESA for Australia initiative.