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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1.1 In May 2008, a report outlining the vision for Australian transport was presented to the Australian Transport Ministers, who supported the need for a coordinated national policy framework and plan. The Strategic Research and Technology (SRT) Working Group was formed under the National Transport Policy Framework to understand key transport data requirements. Subsequently, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) undertook a Strategic Review of Transport Statistics. Through these processes a set of critical transport data gaps were determined.

1.2 In consultation with the SRT Working Group, Australian Transport Statistics Network members (including the ABS) identified a Transport Activity Survey (TAS), a Freight Movement Survey (FMS), and a revised Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) as being core to providing information to the transport data framework. It was also perceived that a TrSA would bring a lot of this data together and present a clearer picture of the economic impacts of transport policies and the broader contribution of transport to the Australian economy.

1.3 In July 2009, the Australian Transport Statistics Network (now Australian Transport and Data Action Network - ATDAN) tasked the ABS with investigating the feasibility of developing a TrSA for Australia. Since then, the ABS has undertaken a review of national and international work and a range of consultation on the needs and potential uses of a TrSA with a number of transport industry groups, key Commonwealth agencies and Treasuries and transport departments in each State and Territory.

1.4 The ABS investigations revealed that:

  1. TrSAs have been developed in a number of countries across North America and Europe (for example, the United States, France, Belgium and Italy) in response to the demand for a better understanding of the wider context and impact of transport on the whole economy. By comparison, official statistics on the wider contribution of the transport industry in Australia are lacking, despite the importance of transport issues.
  2. There is a need for international leadership and standardisation in the area of TrSAs. There is considerable variation in both the scope and measurement of broader transport economic activities from country to country. In a global environment where emission reduction policies and policies to reduce congestion are high on the priority of most developed nations, having comparable data for transport activity and its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other economic measures will become more important.

1.5 The lack of international standards for TrSAs means the scope and methodology of measuring transport activity is currently open to statistical agencies to define. In the longer term, work towards international standards would help to resolve inconsistencies across countries, but in the interim, each country has a range of key methodological/boundary issues it needs to confront in compiling a TrSA. These will be discussed later in the paper following an introduction to satellite accounts and TrSAs more generally.

1.6 The ABS in conjunction with the International Transport Forum’s Joint Transport Research Centre (JTRC) have established a webpage providing contact details, research to date and advice in an endeavour to have TrSAs put on the international agenda.