1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics - Annual Report, 2017-18  
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CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

INTRODUCTION

The ABS, as an agency of the Australian Government, is accountable to the Parliament, and ultimately to the public, through the Treasury ministers, the Parliamentary committee process and the tabling of its annual report.

As the Accountable Authority for the ABS, the Australian Statistician is required to establish and maintain an appropriate system of risk oversight and management for the ABS and an appropriate system of internal controls. The ABS’s Internal Control Framework sets out corporate governance structures and processes. This assists ABS staff members to undertake their responsibilities in a way that meets community expectations of public accountability, probity and openness.

Corporate governance arrangements ensure the effective operation of the ABS, including transparency in decision-making, operation and accountability by promoting strong leadership, sound management and effective planning and review processes.


GOVERNANCE COMMITTEES

An important feature of ABS corporate governance is the role played by governance committees, which are active in developing policies and strategies, identifying ABS priorities, assessing and responding to risks and opportunities, and monitoring ABS performance.

The major governance committees in place during 2017–18, are outlined in Table 5.1.

TABLE 5.1 GOVERNANCE COMMITTEES FOR 2017-18

Executive Board The Executive Board (established in April 2017 to replace the Executive Leadership Group) is a decision-making board, chaired by the Australian Statistician, to provide leadership and strategic oversight of the ABS. The Executive Board provides advice to the Australian Statistician in order for him, as the authorised decision maker under the PGPA Act, to determine direction, policy, priorities, and to ensure the efficient, economical and ethical operations of the ABS. The Chair performs a leadership role in the conduct and direction of the Executive Board and has the majority vote and final decision in the event of non-consensus. Membership consists of the Australian Statistician; all Deputy Australian Statisticians; the General Manager Finance, Risk and Planning Division; the General Manager People, Capability and Communication Division; and a General Manager from the Statistical Services Group for a two year appointment

Australian Statistics Advisory CouncilThe Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC) is the ABS’s key advisory body and is established under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. ASAC provides independent advice to the Minister responsible for the ABS and the Australian Statistician on improvement of statistical services, longer-term statistical priorities and other relevant matters. It also reports to the Parliament annually. The current chair of ASAC is Professor Gary Banks AO.

Statistical Strategy CommitteeThe Statistical Strategy Committee (SSC) is an advisory committee to the Deputy Australian Statistician, Statistical Services Group, on the ABS statistical work program; outcomes of strategic importance are reported to the Executive Board. Key areas include statistical risk management, cross-cutting statistical issues and overall priorities, and strategic relationships. Membership includes the Deputy Australian Statistician (Chair) and General Managers from the Statistical Services Group, General Managers from the Transformation Group, and the General Manager from the Census and Statistical Network Services Division.

Statistical Business Transformation Program Executive BoardThe Statistical Business Transformation (SBT) Program is the flagship transformation initiative of the ABS. The SBT Program Executive Board is chaired by the Australian Statistician. The Board has overarching authority for the SBT Program and is responsible for investment decisions and associated commitments to government, ensuring the ongoing alignment of the SBT Program with the strategic direction and goals of the ABS.

Statistical Business Transformation Program Delivery BoardThe Statistical Business Transformation (SBT) Program Delivery Board is responsible for driving the program and delivering outcomes and benefits.
2021 Census BoardThe 2021 Census Board’s key responsibilities include endorsement of the 2021 Census strategy, overseeing maintenance and achievement of 2021 Census Program objectives, and monitoring the planning, development, operation and delivery phases of the 2021 Census Program. The Board, chaired by the Australian Statistician, will also advise on the resolution of issues relating to scope, trade-offs and investment decisions; provide oversight on all aspects of risk management of the 2021 Census Program and its constituent projects; and advise on strategic relationships with governments and key stakeholders.

2021 Census Delivery CommitteeThe 2021 Census Delivery Committee is chaired by the Deputy Australian Statistician, Census and Data Services Group; it has specific responsibility for advising on the maintenance and achievement of 2021 Census Program objectives. The Committee will ensure adherence to agreed design principles and resolve any discrepancies, including those related to scope and budget. Members will advise on risk mitigation, provide assurance for operational stability and effectiveness through the 2021 Census delivery cycle, and manage the impact of change.

Security CommitteeThe Security Committee is an advisory committee, chaired by the Deputy Australian Statistician, Corporate Services and Transformation Group, established to ensure the ABS complies with its legal and legislative requirements related to security. Its purpose is to ensure there are adequate internal policies, guidelines and effective practices which meet the security- and privacy-related requirements of relevant government policy, i.e. the Protective Security Policy Framework and Information Security Manual.

Resource Prioritisation and Finance CommitteeThe Resource Prioritisation and Finance Committee is an advisory committee, chaired by the Deputy Australian Statistician, Corporate Services and Transformation Group, established to ensure there is cross-Group engagement on the planning, prioritisation, allocation and monitoring of ABS resources. The Committee’s advice to the Chair reflects ABS strategic priorities, and monitors allocations and expenditure to ensure rigour, discipline and transparency. In addition, the Committee advises on adjustments to resource allocations in response to high priority in-year and emerging issues, supports effective risk management frameworks and provides feedback and advice on relevant policies.

Service Improvement Steering CommitteeThe Service Improvement Steering Committee (formerly known as the Statistical Network Services and Technology Committee) is an advisory committee, chaired by the Deputy Australian Statistician, Corporate Services and Transformation Group, established to ensure there is cross-Group engagement on the customer-focused service delivery of technology, corporate and statistical services across the ABS. The Committee promotes a customer-focused service delivery ethos at the heart of what we do and provides advice to the Chair on strategic directions of data acquisition and provider management functions in conjunction with technical and statistical dissemination services from both a customer and client perspective.

People CommitteeThe People Committee is an advisory committee, chaired by the General Manager of the People, Capability and Communication Division, established to ensure there is cross-Group engagement on the monitoring, prioritisation and operational decisions associated with people, culture and partnerships functions of the ABS. The Committee also provides input and advice to the Chair on strategic matters prior to their consideration by the Executive Board, and monitors progress on the implementation of the People and Culture Action Plans. It includes representatives of ABS’s Diversity Networks.

National Health and Safety CommitteeThe National Health and Safety Committee (NHSC) is the forum at which the ABS, its workers and their representatives discuss organisational health and safety matters and issues. The NHSC plays a key role in ABS work health and safety (WHS) governance by receiving and considering information and issues, making decisions and recommendations on organisational WHS matters, and identifying safety matters for appropriate decision-making by the People Committee.

Disclosure Review CommitteeThe Disclosure Review Committee (DRC) advises the Chief Methodologist on the disclosure risks and mitigation strategies associated with the dissemination of microdata and, on an exception basis, aggregate statistics. The DRC may also initiate reviews to continuously improve procedures, processes and policies, or undertake investigations where warranted or where directed by the Executive Board.

Economics Statistics Advisory GroupThe Economic Statistics Advisory Group (ESAG) is an advisory committee to the Deputy Australian Statistician, Statistical Services Group. It is an important mechanism through which the user community can provide feedback on current and planned ABS developments in the field of economic statistics. This Group nurtures the interaction between senior ABS executives and key user groups including influential researchers, policy advisors and decision makers who have a sound appreciation of the use and value of economic statistics.

Population and Social Statistics Advisory GroupThe Population and Social Statistics Advisory Group (PSSAG) is an advisory committee to the Deputy Australian Statistician, Statistical Services Group. It is an important mechanism through which the user community can provide feedback on current and planned ABS developments in the field of population and social statistics. This Group nurtures the interaction between the ABS and informed users of population and social statistics to gain valuable input from their knowledge and expertise.

State Statistical ForumThe State Statistical Forum (SSF), chaired by the Deputy Australian Statistician, Statistical Services Group, is an information sharing and engagement body. It supports effective interaction between the ABS and the states and territories to address common statistical issues.

Methodology Advisory CommitteeThe Methodology Advisory Committee (MAC), chaired by the Chief Methodologist, is an expert advisory group of statisticians and data scientists drawn mainly from, but not restricted to, universities across Australia and New Zealand. The function of the MAC is to provide expert advice to the Chief Methodologist on selected methodological issues that arise across the production of national statistics e.g. survey design, data linkage, analysis, confidentialisation and dissemination.

ABS Management MeetingsABS Management Meetings play a major role in setting and communicating ABS strategic directions and priorities. The meetings are held twice a year and involve all ABS Senior Executive Staff (SES). They provide an opportunity for SES to discuss big-picture issues, take stock of lessons learnt, look ahead and discuss strategic issues and plans. Recently the Management Meetings have included workshops on risk management, developing a high performing workforce and 2021 Census planning.

ABS Audit CommitteeThe ABS Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the Australian Statistician on the ABS’s financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and the system of internal controls, including those applied to ensure legislative compliance and the execution of ABS functions. The current Chair of the ABS Audit Committee is Ms Jennifer Clark.


RISK OVERSIGHT AND MANAGEMENT

The ABS continued its efforts to overhaul its Risk Management Framework through 2017–18. This renewed engagement with risk leveraged independent advice from external risk experts to set out a new risk action plan to further develop the risk competence of staff and managers and embed fit-for-purpose processes and tools.

Throughout the year, the Executive Board dedicated considerable attention to getting the core settings right. Working with a specialist risk advisor, and the general managers, the Board revised the ABS strategic risks to take account of changes in the external environment and emerging dependencies for continued ABS delivery of quality statistics. These revised strategic risks have been promulgated throughout the ABS and serve as the reference point for operational risk assessments within each division.

The Executive Board has been routinely communicating the importance of improved risk consciousness within the business. A new corporate risk policy team was created in order to ensure that all employees are made aware of good risk management disciplines and have access to best-practice policy and materials to support their efforts to implement risk management as an operational imperative.

The ABS drew on best-practice risk management to deliver the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey (AMLPS) within an unusually short lead time. By drawing on good risk management principles and independent assurance processes, the AMLPS project managed to deliver rigorous discipline in its assessment, treatment, monitoring and oversight of risk.

While progress has been made this year, the plan to enhance risk management capability within the ABS is not yet complete. Further work on accountability arrangements, risk monitoring, and embedding risk practice down to the program level are continuing. New risk categories and practical tools for implementing risk assessments are being developed to better guide the work of operational managers. A new risk software solution will improve the standardisation of risk terminology and consistency in the documentation of risks and controls. The strengthening of the central repository of risk assessments is also assisting corporate teams to better appreciate enterprise-wide risks that are best addressed through cross-agency treatments.

The ABS Audit Committee has also continued to make risk a central driver of its efforts to assure critical processes in the ABS. Awareness of the very technical nature of ABS operations and the potential for risk to emerge in periods of significant internal and external change while experiencing real resourcing pressures has led the Audit Committee to pay increasing attention to very fundamental aspects of corporate practice including performance measurement, records destruction, and conflict of interest. This independent assurance provides important assistance to the Australian Statistician in the task of overseeing the ABS’s performance. The 2018–19 strategic risks were signed off by the Executive Board in June 2018.

FRAUD CONTROL

The ABS has a Fraud Control Plan to provide the framework and associated guidance for fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes that meet the specific needs of the ABS and broader government obligations. It is supported by a Fraud Risk Assessment which records identified fraud risks, treatment strategies, responsibilities, dates for implementation and reporting obligations.

The ABS Fraud Control Plan is reviewed and updated two-yearly. The fraud risk assessment is reviewed twice a year or more frequently where the ABS has identified significant changes to fraud risk exposure. The ABS Audit Committee has oversight of ABS fraud control activity.

A Fraud Control Assessment was conducted by an independent assessor in the December– January period. This assessment found that ‘Compared to 2016, the ABS’s residual fraud risk has decreased due to increased oversight of existing controls and the implementation of new controls in key areas’. Nonetheless, changes in the nature of fraud risk mean that the ABS must continue to be alert to the potential for fraud. The Fraud Risk Assessment specifically pointed to the growing use of flexible working arrangements and the risk posed by third parties as aspects of ABS operations that require close attention in future.

SECURITY

Security of information provided to the ABS is key to maintaining the high levels of trust that enable the ABS to operate effectively and fulfil its mission. In May 2017 a new Information Security Branch was formed to provide extra focus on transforming security within the ABS.

All ABS premises are physically secured against unauthorised access. Entry is through electronically controlled access systems, activated by individually coded access cards and monitored by closed circuit television. Areas of the ABS producing particularly sensitive data, such as market sensitive statistics, are subject to further protective security measures.

The ABS computer network has a secure gateway which allows connection to internet services including the ABS website. The secure gateway was established in accordance with Australian Government guidelines and is reviewed bi-annually by an accredited independent assessor. Access to ABS computing systems is based on personal identifiers and strong authentication services. Databases are accessible only by approved users. The computer systems are regularly monitored and usage is audited. There were no unauthorised access incidents into ABS computing systems during 2017–18.

On 9 August 2017, the Treasurer directed the Australian Statistician to undertake a statistical collection from all Australians on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, as to their views on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. The ABS drew on existing strong security controls and its security personnel, as well as engaged with key departments and agencies including the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) in developing a robust security strategy for the AMLPS process. The ABS contracted Ernst & Young to provide independent assurance on cyber security architecture and processes and seconded senior staff from the ASD and the DTA to ensure implementation of the best cyber security arrangements. The ABS also worked with the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre. The ABS maintained regular communication with these entities to share intelligence and agree action plans allowing the ABS to respond quickly to issues.

PRIVACY

As an Australian Government agency, the ABS must comply with the Privacy Act 1988, including the Australian Privacy Principles. These govern the way personal information about any person – including staff, clients and respondents – should be collected, stored, used and disclosed. The ABS’s Privacy Policy is published on the ABS website.

In 2018 the Australian Government amended the Privacy Act 1988 to further protect the privacy of Australians. The amendments introduced the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 on 22 February 2018 and the Privacy (Australian Government Agencies – Governance) APP Code 2017 (Privacy Code) on 1 July 2018. There have been no notifiable data breaches since the scheme came into effect (Feb 2018).

The ABS has formally appointed a Privacy Officer and a Privacy Champion as required by the Privacy Code. These persons provide advice on privacy issues and promote a positive privacy culture while also assisting the ABS in meeting the legislative requirements of the Privacy Code, including:
    • the development and review of an ABS privacy management plan

    • maintaining a personal information holdings register

    • advancing agency privacy capability through training and education

    • ensuring privacy impact assessments are undertaken as required

    • investigating and acting on allegations of misuse or unauthorised disclosures regarding personal information, including reporting notifiable data breaches to the Australian Information Commissioner

    • monitoring the external environment to keep up-to-date on privacy issues that could affect ABS operations.


The ABS participated in Privacy Awareness Week in 2017–18 to promote awareness of privacy, including the impending legislative amendments. The ABS has also established an internal privacy community of practice, chaired by the ABS Privacy Officer and participates in cross-government privacy collaboration opportunities. Privacy awareness forms an integral part of the ABS culture.

PROTECTING THE PRIVACY OF AUSTRALIANS

The continued trust and support of our survey respondents and information providers is critical to the ABS. We maintain the secrecy of the information provided to us, as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905, while also ensuring that we meet the additional requirements of the Privacy Act 1988, the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme and the Privacy Code.

The ABS has also taken a strong ‘privacy by design’ approach to protecting the privacy of Australians, most recently demonstrated in the design approach of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. Michael Crompton, Managing Director of Information Integrity Solutions Pty Ltd, and previous Australian Information Commissioner, was consulted on the privacy aspects of the Survey. In his independent privacy statement, Mr Crompton found the ABS strategy was “a comprehensive approach to assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of privacy protection measures from the start of the survey through to its completion, publication of statistics and destruction of all personal information collected”.

The Multi Agency Data Integration Project is also embracing privacy by design as it progresses with securely linking data from multiple agencies to inform policy and program development. The privacy and confidentiality of personal information is paramount to the success of this project and has been scrutinised through the conduct of an independent privacy impact assessment (IPIA). The IPIA acknowledged there are strong measures in place to protect privacy.

INFORMATION PUBLICATION SCHEME

As an agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), the ABS is required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS).

Each agency must display a plan on its website showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements.

The ABS’s IPS plan is available on the ABS website.

EXTERNAL SCRUTINY

Statistical Business Transformation Program – Gateway Reviews

The ABS was subject to mid-stage Gateway Reviews of the Statistical Business Transformation (SBT) Program in June 2016 and November–December 2017. Both these reviews, conducted on behalf of the Department of Finance, resulted in a Delivery Confidence Assessment (DCA) of Green/Amber, with the December 2017 report recognising the Program’s proven track record in the timely delivery of technically complex mid-term deliverables, its commitment to continuous improvement in its program management and delivery, and the quality of its planning for the next stage. A Green/Amber DCA indicates that ‘Successful delivery of the Program to time, cost, quality standards and benefits realisation appears probable however constant attention will be needed to ensure risks do not become major issues threatening delivery’.

The December 2017 report included six recommendations, of which two were essential and one critical. The essential recommendations in the December 2017 report focused on statistical risk management and engagement with external stakeholders, while the critical recommendation focused on the resourcing of the Program.

The ABS is currently addressing the December 2017 recommendations. The next Gateway Review of the SBT Program is planned for January 2019.

Other reviews

There were no other external reviews in 2017–18 that had a significant effect on the operations of the entity, with no reports issued by the Australian Information Commissioner or the Commonwealth Ombudsman. There were no individual or administrative review decisions of significance to the ABS.

There were no adverse comments relating to the ABS from the Auditor-General, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, or courts or tribunals during 2017-18.


SUBMISSIONS TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES

TABLE 5.2: ABS SUBMISSIONS TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES IN 2017–18

Committee/InquiryDescription of submission/information provided

Senate Standing Committees on Finance and Public Administration, Arrangements
for the Marriage Postal Survey
On 17 August 2017, the ABS provided an initial submission to the inquiry into the arrangements relating to the collection of statistical information on the views of all Australians on the electoral roll on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry, as announced by the government (the postal survey). Two supplementary submissions were made on 7 September 2017 and 30 January 2018. The ABS also appeared before the Committees’ public hearings on 17 August 2017, 7 September 2017 and 15 September 2017. There were no findings for ABS in the Inquiry Report.

Senate Committee Report on Gender Segregation in the Workplace and its Impact
on Women’s Economic Equality
In September 2017, the ABS was asked to comment on the draft Government response to Recommendation 9 from the Report:
Recommendation 9: The committee recommends that the ABS Time Use study recommence on a regular basis.
ABS responded that the Government’s response was consistent with its submission.

Parliament of New South Wales Committee on Children and Young PeopleIn September 2017, the ABS provided a submission to the Inquiry into the prevention of youth suicide in New South Wales. This submission related specifically to data collection about the incidence of youth suicide and attempted suicide. ABS also attended the inquiry on 12 February 2018.

Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers, Inquiry into the Future of
Work and Workers
In January 2018, the ABS provided a submission to the Inquiry which reported on the impact of technological and other changes on the future of work and workers in Australia.

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, Australian Government Contract Reporting InquiryIn February 2018, the ABS provided a response based on ANAO Report No.19 (2017–18) Australian Government Procurement Contract Reporting. The Committee requested the ABS provide details on the ABS’s use of contractors and consultants over the past five years. The ABS attended a private hearing in March 2018 with regards to the submission.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and
Cities, Inquiry into the Australian Government’s role in the development of cities
In March 2018, the ABS provided a private briefing to the Committee providing insights across a broad range of data relating to cities in general, as well as major regional centres, with an emphasis on graphic representation of the following:
    • population trends in capital cities and regional centres
    • data relating to journey to work time and distance
    • wage data on a city and regional basis
    • relevant 2016 Census data.

Senate Select Committee, Stillbirth Research and Education InquiryIn June 2018, the ABS provided a submission to the inquiry on the future of stillbirth research and education in Australia, with particular reference
to the consistency and timeliness of data available to researchers across states, territories and federal jurisdictions.


PROCUREMENT

ABS procurement and contracting activities are undertaken in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. These rules are applied consistently to procurement activities through the Accountable Authority Instructions, supporting operational guidelines and procurement framework.

Information on procurements expected to be undertaken are advertised in an annual procurement plan, available from the AusTender website.

This plan is reviewed and updated throughout the year.

No contracts with the value of $100,000 or greater (inclusive of GST) were let during 2017–18 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises.

Initiatives to support small business

The ABS supports small business participation in the Australian Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance website.

ABS procurement practices support SMEs by adopting whole-of-government solutions to simplify interactions. This includes using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low risk procurements valued under $200,000.

The ABS recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Department of the Treasury website.

Consultancies

The ABS engages consultants when it requires specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Decisions to engage consultants during 2017–18 were made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related regulations, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant internal policy.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.

During 2017–18, 48 new consultancy contracts were entered into at a value of $10.8 million. In addition, 22 ongoing consultancy contracts will remain active after the 2017–18 year, involving total contract value of $10.59 million (Table 5.3).

There were three major drivers of the ABS’s increase in consultancy services in 2017–18. Firstly, the ABS’s Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP) – the nature and stage of this project have necessitated that the ABS work closely with the ICT industry and other stakeholders, utilising both consultants and contractors, to deliver the transformation program and provide independent assurance services to the program. The second relates to consultancy services required to deliver the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey (AMLPS), including risk management, independent assurance and the development of marketing/campaign advertising. The third being the establishment of the 2021 Census Work Program and related consultancy services such as independent assurance and assistance with the initiation of a Program Management Office.

TABLE 5.3 CONSULTANCY CONTRACTS FROM 2015 –16 TO 2017–18

New consultancy contracts
Ongoing consultancy contracts

Number of new contracts
Amount ($m)
Number of ongoing contracts
Amount ($m)

2015-16
14
$4.9
3
$0.1
2016-17
44
$3.6
17
$1.3
2017-18
48
$10.8
22
$10.59


Exempt contracts

During the 2017–18 financial year the ABS did not exempt any contracts or standing offers from publication on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose exempt information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

ASSET MANAGEMENT

The ABS’s asset management policies are set out in the Accountable Authority Instructions and supporting financial management procedures, which is in accordance with relevant accounting standards and Department of Finance requirements. Further details on the ABS’s asset policies are contained in note 2.2 of the Financial Statements.

An asset register records details of all assets held by the ABS. An annual stocktake is conducted to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information held on the register.

The capital management plan sets out the ABS’s longer-term asset requirements and funding sources for ongoing asset replacement and investment. The capital budget process is integrated with strategic planning and is conducted in conjunction with the annual operating budget process.

ADVERTISING AND MARKET RESEARCH

During 2017-18, the ABS conducted the following advertising including: non-campaign advertising for the 2016 Census of Population and Housing (Census) and campaign advertising for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

The Census non-campaign advertising was aimed at promoting the results of the 2016 Census to Australians. The results were released across two main phases in July and October 2017. Further information on the non-campaign advertising expenditure is available at www.tenders.gov.au.

The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey campaign advertising aimed to give eligible Australian voters, 18 years and over, the opportunity to express their view on whether the Australian marriage laws should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Further information on those advertising campaigns is available at www.abs.gov.au and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

Under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the ABS is required to disclose payments over $13,200 (GST Inclusive) for advertising and market research in the annual report.

During 2017-18, the ABS’s total expenditure for advertising and market research over the reporting threshold was $18,592,156 (GST Inclusive) (Table 5.4), the vast majority of which was expended on advertising for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

TABLE 5.4 ADVERTISING AND MARKET RESEARCH PAYMENTS OVER $13,200 IN 2017–18

OrganisationPurpose
Expenditure ($, GST inclusive)
Market research organisations
ORC InternationalDevelopmental and Market research to inform ABS Communication
86,338
DBM Consultants2016 Census Research Services - Data Release Communication and Evaluation
62,101
DBM Consultants2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey - Campaign Evaluation Research
18,943

Advertising (Campaign and non-campaign advertising)
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Pty Ltd2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Advertising
16,598,405
BMF Advertising Pty Ltd2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Advertising
1,184,789
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Pty Ltd2016 Census and Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Advertising
41,668
Livestream Australia Pty Ltd2016 Census - Webcast Services to live stream ABS Census data seminars
41,345
Dentsu Mitchell Media Pty Ltd2017 Graduate Recruitment Advertising
15,146
Dentsu X Australia Pty Ltd2017 General Recruitment Advertising
14,385
Outback Global Australia Pty LtdNational Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS)
13,398

Public relations organisations
Ethnic Communications2016 Census - Multicultural Communication Services - Translation and Media Relations
180,620
Fenton Strategic Communications Pty Ltd2016 Census - Data Release Communication and Media
145,382
King Content Pty Ltd2016 Census - Digital Content Creation
88, 578
MediaLink Productions2016 Census and National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) Video Production
64,406
MediaLink Productions2016 Census and National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) Video Production
64,406
Isobar Australia2016 Census - Digital content creation
36,650

Total Payments over $13,200 (GST Inclusive)
18,592,156(a))

(a) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between the total and the sum of the component items.