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
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



2.1 The System of National Accounts (SNA) consists of a coherent, consistent and integrated set of macroeconomic accounts; balance sheets and tables based on a set of internationally agreed concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules. While the SNA is comprehensive in terms of the boundaries of what it measures, there are increasing demands for additional details or alternative views of various activities in the Australian economy. The SNA recognises the need for flexibility in implementing the framework to enable analysis beyond the core National Accounts1, and provides examples of ways in which flexibility can be applied to meet these demands. The glossary defines some of the key concepts of the System of National Accounts such as Gross Domestic Product and Gross Value-Added.


2.2 Satellite accounts are frameworks designed to expand the analytical capacity of the existing National Accounts. Satellite accounts supplement the SNA and organise information in a consistent way that suits a particular analytical focus while maintaining links to the existing accounts. They typically expand a particular segment of the SNA with more detailed data, including non-monetary data. They may also use definitions and classifications that differ from those in the SNA. Depending on the analytical focus, the production boundary of the National Accounts can be maintained or modified.

2.3 The 2008 manual of the System of National Accounts (SNA 2008) recommends using satellite accounts to handle situations such as measuring own-account transport (referred to in this paper as “own-account” transport, i.e. for own-use). Paragraph 29.35 of SNA 2008 states:

“Consider the example of transportation. The output of transportation activities in the central framework covers only transport services rendered to third parties, whether as a principal or secondary product. Own-account transportation is treated as an ancillary activity; its inputs are unidentified components of the costs of the producing units it serves. To obtain a broader picture of transportation activity, own-account transportation of producing units may be identified and measured." 2

2.4 Satellite accounts provide a more comprehensive measure of a particular economic activity through a consistent treatment of all components of that activity throughout the economy, including activities which are internal to the firm and for which there are no observable prices. For example, the Transport, Postal and Warehousing industry (referred to as "Transport industry" in this paper) in the core National Accounts consists of businesses where the primary activity is in transport and/or storage. However, significant transport activity occurs outside of the Transport, Postal and Warehousing industry (known , for example in Mining, Construction and Agriculture. This activity will be covered by the estimates in the National Accounts for these industries, rather than the “Transport” industry.

2.5 Box 1 below presents a brief outline or case study of an existing satellite account, in this case the Tourism Satellite Account. It is an example of how standard industry classifications can be reclassified in a satellite account.

Box 1 Case Study - the Australian Tourism Satellite Account

The aim of the Australian Tourism Satellite Account (ATSA) is to measure the direct contribution of the tourism industry to the Australian economy. Key aggregates of ATSA include tourism output, tourism gross value added, tourism gross domestic product (TGDP) and tourism employment. These relate to the direct effects of tourism consumption.

While tourism is commonly considered an industry by tourism researchers and economic analysts, it is not an industry or product in international statistical standards. Standard industrial classifications are defined from a supply-side perspective, while tourism encapsulates the supply of products and services from a range of these industries. Connected with this, ‘tourism’ is characterised as a demand side activity which is defined on the status of the consumer, and therefore determines the type and quantity of productive activity within the scope of tourism. The tourism satellite account therefore highlights tourism within the national accounting framework and maintains the production boundary of the core National Accounts.

See https://www.abs.gov.au/AusStats/ABS@.nsf/MF/5249.0

2.6 Satellite accounts also present the opportunity to link physical data with monetary data in the national accounting system. From a transport perspective, this physical data could represent data such as freight kilometres, passenger kilometres, employment characteristics, number and type of transport vehicles. It also presents options to link transport use (by all sectors) to non-monetary accounts such as the Energy Account.
See https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/PrimaryMainFeatures/4604.0

2.7 More information on measuring transport from a satellite account perspective is presented below.


2.8 A TrSA presents the opportunity for extending the focus of the core National Accounts to a more detailed analysis of transport activity using additional information from other sources of transport data. A TrSA covers both transport activities conducted on a for-hire basis (which are primarily undertaken by businesses classified to the Transport, Postal and Warehousing industry in the core National Accounts) and transport activity conducted by businesses for their own use. This would provide a unified picture of the impact of transport activity on the whole economy.

2.9 From an ABS and transport perspective, the objectives of a TrSA are:
  • to expand the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) to measure broader transport activity while keeping faith with the concepts and structures of the core National Accounts;
  • to present specific details on the transport sector, in an account which is separate from, but linked to, the core National Accounts; and
  • to present a more complete picture of transport activity within the national accounting framework by explicitly measuring transport services in all industries, not just the transport industry.

2.10 Investigations into the feasibility of developing a TrSA in Australia have highlighted two fundamental building blocks in the process. The first step is a set of detailed financial statistics on the transport industry and wider transport activity in the total economy. The second is the need for a TrSA framework built around a satellite account linked to the National Accounts.

2.11 In terms of the first step the ABS has already invested resources to collect additional data from the Transport, Postal and Warehousing industry as well as collecting data on transport activity from all other industries. This data, collected as part of the 2010-11 Economic Activity Survey, will provide critical data for developing a TrSA, for interpreting the results, and developing various indicators of transport industry performance. Data from the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use and Motor Vehicle Census could also be used, with both of these collections potentially providing motor vehicle data by industry in the future subject to the inclusion of Australian Business Number (ABN). Fundamentally, a TrSA would bring together these and many existing sources of data to present a clearer picture of the broad contribution of transport to the Australian economy as a whole.

2.12 The second step is the development of a framework built around the supply-use tables in the ASNA. At present, while there are international statistical guidelines for the development of satellite accounts linked to the SNA, there are no specific international guidelines for developing a TrSA. Therefore, TrSA development is currently at the discretion of each country. However, as with other ASNA satellite accounts, the TrSA framework would be developed in such a way as to preserve close connections with the central accounts (SNA). This would facilitate analysis of transport in the context of macro-economic accounts and analyses. The best way to integrate the TrSA framework (including both monetary and physical data) with the SNA framework is by compiling the account in a collapsed and reorganised set of supply and use tables. Moreover, the framework for the TrSA should be built in such a way as to facilitate the potential future development of State and Territory TrSAs by users. (Noting that State TrSA tables may have to be modelled as the transport data from the key data sources are at a national level only).

1 The “core National Accounts” as referred to in this paper, refer to the main sequence of accounts as described in the System of National Accounts 2008. These relate to the production account; distribution and use of income account; capital account; financial account; other changes in assets account; and balance sheets.

2 Production by the transport industry, as defined in the SNA, relates only to income derived from the services that it sells in the marketplace (e.g. air-transport). If transport activities are conducted as a support activity by a business in a non-transport industry, e.g. retail, the activities are referred to as “own-account” or ancillary activity. To obtain a broader picture of transport activity in the economy, this own-account activity should be identified and measured.