APPENDIX A: ENABLING LEGISLATION
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and the Census and Statistics Act 1905 are the principal pieces of legislation that set out the primary functions, duties and powers of the ABS.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 establishes the ABS as an independent statutory authority, with Section 6(1) describing the six functions of the ABS as being to:
The Census and Statistics Act 1905:
- constitute the central statistical authority for the Australian Government and provide services for the state and territory governments
- collect, compile, analyse and disseminate statistics and related information
- ensure coordination of the operations of official bodies in the collection, compilation and dissemination of statistics and related information
- develop standards for statistics and ensure compliance
- give advice and assistance to official bodies in relation to statistics
- provide liaison between Australia, other countries and international organisations on statistical issues.
Section 13 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides for the Minister to make determinations providing for the disclosure, with the approval in writing of the Statistician, of information included in a specified class of information furnished in pursuance of that Act. The Statistics Determination is such a determination and provides for the release of a very restricted range of information under special circumstances.
The Census and Statistics Act 1905 also provides for Regulations relating to the creation of a variety of matters to assist the Statistician in performing his functions. These are contained within the Census and Statistics Regulation.
The ABS is governed by the Public Service Act 1999, the principal Act governing the establishment and operation of, and employment in, the Australian Public Service; and is subject to requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Privacy Act 1988 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
- empowers the Australian Statistician to collect statistical information on a broad range of demographic, economic, environmental and social topics
- enables the Australian Statistician to direct a person to provide statistical information, in which case they are legally obliged to do so
- requires the ABS to publish the results of these statistical collections
- places a life-long obligation on all ABS officers to maintain the secrecy of information collected under the Act, and provides harsh penalties for those who fail to do so.