1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2004-05  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/10/2005   
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Review of Components

The remainder of this chapter reviews the activities and achievements of each component of the Economic Statistics program during 2004–05.


The national accounts component produces statistics which form the core of the Australian system of national accounts. These statistics summarise, in a systematic and comprehensive way, the economic transactions that take place within the Australian economy and between Australia and the rest of the world. The usefulness of the accounts derives largely from the way in which data from a number of sources are brought together and presented in a conceptually consistent way, both for a given period and over time. Australia’s national accounts essentially accord with the recommendations contained in the 1993 issue of the System of National Accounts — the international standard for national accounts statistics.

Senior staff attend meetings of the Joint Economic Forecasting Group, which comprises major Australian government economic policy agencies, to provide advice on the statistics used as input to the forecasting process.

Achievements during the year included:

  • completion of a review into the treatment of the non-observed economy in the national accounts
  • establishment of the State Accounts User Group to discuss state and territory level economic measurement issues
  • substantial progress on the development of an Information and Communication Technology satellite account
  • progress on the development of updated international national accounts standards including the hosting of a key expert group meeting on the measurement of non-financial assets
  • publication of detailed input–output tables for 1998–99, Australian National Accounts: Input–Output Tables — Electronic Publication (cat. no. 5209.0.55.001)
  • publication of feature articles on ‘The terms of trade effect and the national accounts’ in Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0) and ‘100 Years of Change in Australian Industry’ in Australian System of National Accounts (cat. no. 5204.0)
  • provision of technical assistance to the statistical agencies of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in relation to the compilation of national accounts statistics.

The international accounts component produces statistics and related information on the balance of payments, the international investment position and globalisation indicators. Balance of payments and international investment position statistics are published quarterly and annually, international trade in goods and services statistics are published monthly, and globalisation indicators are published periodically.

Achievements during the year included:
  • publication of Australian Outward Foreign Affiliates Trade, 2002–03 (cat. no. 5495.0) containing survey results on the number, industry, sales, purchases, employment, and wages and salaries of foreign affiliates of Australian resident enterprises
  • development of the Survey of Foreign Currency Exposure. The survey collected information on the hedging practices and foreign currency exposure of Australian companies. Results will be published in November 2005
  • introduction of memorandum items for tourism related services credits and debits in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0)
  • publication of feature articles, ‘Kangaroo Bonds’ and ‘Foreign Ownership of Equity’ in the September quarter 2004 Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0)
  • a significant contribution, through the preparation of papers and participation in international forums, to the review of international standards governing the compilation of economic accounts, particularly to the revision of the Balance of Payments Manual
  • participation in a joint international accounts workshop with Statistics New Zealand
  • presentation of regional training courses on international accounts statistics in Mongolia and Suva
  • the introduction of concurrent re-analysis, enhancing seasonal adjustment for balance of payments statistics.

The international trade component produces statistics on the value, composition, destination and source of Australia’s international trade in goods and services. These statistics are available on a range of output media and can be tailored to meet the needs of individual clients. A theme page for international trade on the ABS web site provides users with an extensive set of reference material.

Achievements during the year included:
  • publication of feature articles, ‘Australia’s Exporters, 2003–04’ and ‘Australia’s Importers, 2003–04’ on the ABS web site, concurrently with the publication International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0)
  • successful transition to data sourced from the exports component of the Customs Cargo Management Re-engineering project
  • successful updating of benchmarks, and improving methodologies for international trade in services education credits and travel debits, with results to be released for September quarter 2005
  • participation in a biennial international merchandise trade conference involving the ABS, Statistics Canada, Statistics New Zealand, HM Customs and Excise, and the United States Census Bureau
  • assistance to international visitors from Indonesia on merchandise trade in services and balance of payments compilation, and from Viet Nam and Japan on trade in services.

The financial accounts component produces, as part of the Australian system of national accounts, statistics on the financial profile of each sector of the economy and the markets for various categories of financial instruments. Information on inter-sectoral financial transactions is also provided.

The component also produces statistics on the lending activity of financial institutions such as banks, building societies, finance companies, credit unions, unit trusts and superannuation funds.

Achievements during the year included:
  • a move to a new quarterly Survey of Superannuation, based on data collected by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority
  • quality assurance and data confrontation work on general insurance data in conjunction with the National Accounts component to reconcile the respective published data series
  • the introduction of concurrent re-analysis, enhancing seasonal adjustment in housing and other lending finance statistics
  • release of the annual venture capital survey results to an accelerated timetable
  • providing technical assistance and training material on accumulation accounts for the Statistical Institute of Asia and the Pacific.

The public sector accounts component provides government finance statistics for the Australian, state and territory governments, their public non-financial and financial corporations, local governments, and universities. In addition to a range of annual publications, quarterly statistics are compiled for inclusion in the national accounts, and detailed financial statistics about individual local government authorities are provided on request. The component provides advice on the statistics used as input to the forecasting work of the Public Sector Subcommittee of the Joint Economic Forecasting Group.

Achievements during the year included:
  • further standardisation of local government forms and collection methodology in cooperation with local government grants commissions and departments of local government. The revised quarterly form has resulted in a significant reduction in provider load
  • release of the quarterly electronic publication Government Finance Statistics, Australia, Quarterly, Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 5519.0.55.001) moved to the day prior to the release of the quarterly publication Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0)
  • the first release of accruals based government financial statistics time series spreadsheets on the ABS web site.

The prices component is responsible for compiling the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a range of Producer Price Indexes (PPI) and International Trade Price Indexes (ITPI), and the Labour Price Index (LPI).

The CPI measures the change each quarter in the cost of purchasing a fixed basket of consumer goods and services. The PPI include price indexes of inputs and outputs of manufacturing industry; materials used in the building industry; outputs of selected service industries; and the supply of commodities to the Australian economy in a ‘stage of production’ framework. The ITPI are price indexes for exports and imports. The LPI measures the change in the price of labour services resulting from market pressures, and is unaffected by changes in the quality and quantity of work performed.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of an experimental index measuring price changes for financial services acquired by households in Information Paper: Experimental Price Indexes for Financial Services, 1998 to 2003 (cat. no. 6413.0). The experimental indexes have been updated each quarter and will be incorporated into the CPI in the September quarter 2005 publication in conjunction with the introduction of new weights as part of the ‘15th Series Review’
  • development and implementation of hedonic price indexes for personal computers, including the release of Information Paper: The Introduction of Hedonic Price Indexes for Personal Computers (cat. no. 6458.0)
  • the inclusion of a new series on non-wage labour costs to the renamed publication Labour Price Index, Australia (cat. no. 6345.0), previously known as Wage Cost Index, Australia (cat. no. 6345.0)
  • release of the first edition of Labour Price Index: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6351.0.55.001) providing information on what the indexes measure and outlines the various sources of the price information used to compile the indexes
  • continued technical assistance to Statistics South Africa to improve their CPI by setting up an interviewer program for collecting prices data
  • further assistance to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in setting up the Asia/Pacific region component of the 2005 International Comparison Program; support to the global program through chairing the Executive Board and being an active participant in the Technical Advisory Group.

The business indicators component produces a range of sub-annual indicators of current economic activity. These indicators include monthly estimates of turnover by retail and selected service industries and economy wide quarterly estimates of company profits, sales, inventories, wages and new capital expenditure. The capital expenditure series include both actual and expected expenditure. The program also produces quarterly estimates of mineral and petroleum exploration expenditure. The data from the business indicators program are essential inputs into the compilation of quarterly and annual national accounts and input–output tables.

Achievements during the year included:
  • introducing, in the July 2004 issue of Retail Trade, Australia (cat. no. 8501.0), estimates using a new sample design and an improved estimation method utilising Business Activity Statement data provided by the Australian Taxation Office
  • incorporating more sophisticated modelling into the seasonal adjustment process for the majority of the retail trade series and a changed treatment of the trading day component for all series
  • introducing a quarterly electronic release Contribution of Gambling to Retail Estimates (cat. no. 8501.0.55.003) on the ABS web site
  • the introduction of a new experimental series on projected capital expenditure which aims to provide more guidance to users of capital expenditure expectations data.

The economy wide statistics component is responsible for a range of annual statistics on the financial operations and performance of businesses in the Australian economy. The outputs from this activity provide key inputs into the compilation of Australia’s national accounts.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of Australian Industry (cat. no. 8155.0) which presented 2001–02 and 2002–03 results from the Economic Activity Survey. These were the first results published using the new Australian Business Register based population framework. Included in the publication were estimates on the old and new basis to enable the backcasting of national accounts series and to assist external users to understand the changes introduced. Also included, to assist data interpretation, was information on how these data compare with other ABS data
  • conduct of an expanded Economic Activity Survey for the 2003–04 reference year to provide data for the preparation of Tourism Satellite Accounts
  • finalisation of collection strategies to enable the release of Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 based estimates for 2004–05 and 2005–06 with the 2006–07 estimates
  • the centralisation of all regular annual surveys in the New South Wales Office to facilitate greater consistency of processes leading to more coherent data
  • provision of assistance to BPS — Statistics Indonesia regarding development of their economic census.

The business demographics component produces statistics on the size, structure and characteristics of businesses to assist policy makers, researchers and the community to analyse the performance of businesses in the economy.

Achievements during the year included:
  • development of requirements for the 2005 Survey of Characteristics of Small Business Owners as a supplementary survey to the June Monthly Population Surveys. This survey covers an extended set of topics including reasons for operating a business from home, barriers to employment of staff, source of business advice and involvement in exporting. The results of this survey are due for release in April 2006
  • continued development of a Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) with support from an external advisory group. The development of a business characteristics survey to support the BLD into the future has commenced; the first survey will be conducted in 2006 in respect of 2004–05
  • development of a conceptual framework for the Business Entries and Exits series, and the release of Experimental Estimates, Entries and Exits of Business Entities, Australia (cat. no. 8160.0.55.001) covering 2001–02, 2002–03 and 2003–04.

The innovation and technology component provides statistics on innovation, research and experimental development, and information technology. Information technology includes statistics on the demand for information technologies by businesses, government, households and farms, and on the supply and distribution of information technology and telecommunications goods and services.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of Innovation in Australian Business (cat. no. 8158.0), which presents results from the Innovation Survey 2003. The survey was conducted with funding from the Department of Education, Science and Training and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. It differed significantly from previous ABS surveys on innovation, with the scope being extended to cover most ANZSIC divisions and use of a broader definition of innovation than currently used internationally. This broader definition is expected to be adopted in international standards from mid-2005
  • release of Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0) which contains a range of new and detailed statistics about the use of computers and the Internet by selected population groups, persons with a disability, persons aged 60 years and over, Indigenous persons, and children
  • the inclusion of questions on biotechnology research and development in the 2003–04 reference year Survey of Research and Experimental Development — Businesses. Output from this survey will be released in September 2005
  • in conjunction with stakeholders, substantial progress towards the compilation of an Information Development Plan for the fields of information and communication technology statistics, and science and innovation statistics
  • contribution to the development of international statistical standards for science and technology indicators as:
    • a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) task force on Fields of Science classification for research and development statistics
    • a member of the OECD Working Party on Indicators for the Information Society
    • a participant in the National Experts in Science and Technology Indicators meeting
    • presenters at the biennial Asia–Pacific Information and Communication Technology Technical meeting.

The agriculture component provides statistics on the structure, performance and production of the agriculture industry. Data collected and disseminated includes monthly information on livestock slaughtering, quarterly information on poultry slaughtering and wool receivals by brokers and dealers, and detailed annual information on the operations of farm businesses including commodity production and other characteristics such as farm business and land management practices. User funding by industry associations is provided to obtain detailed information about vineyards, and for apples and pears. Every five years a census of farm businesses is undertaken to provide a comprehensive picture of the sector and to provide detailed regional and commodity data. The next census will be in respect to the 2005–06 reference year and will be despatched in June 2006.

A range of derived statistics, including estimates of the value of agricultural commodities produced, is also provided by the agriculture component.

Achievements during the year included:
  • finalisation of a strategy to use the Australian Business Register as the source of the population for agriculture collections
  • release of the inaugural Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia (cat. no. 4307.0.55.001), to be released annually on the ABS web site. This publication provides estimates of the quantity of beer, wine and spirits available for consumption for the years 1996–97 to 2002–03. It also includes an estimate of the apparent consumption of these products by persons aged 15 years and over
  • completion of a detailed analysis of the vegetation questions collected under contract for the Department of Environment and Heritage
  • publication of a feature article, ‘Seasonal and trend influences in lamb slaughtering’, in the June quarter 2004 Livestock Products, Australia (cat. no. 7215.0)
  • release of Information Paper: Agricultural Census: ABS Views on Content and Procedures 2005–06 (cat. no. 7103.0) and conduct of a workshop with key stakeholders as part of the user consultation in developing the 2005–06 Agricultural Census.

The mining component conducts annual surveys of the mining, electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries to provide statistics on the structure, financial operations, performance, and other characteristics of these industries. The component also conducts quarterly collections of actual and expected mineral and petroleum exploration expenditure. Information on mineral and petroleum production is obtained from state administrative sources.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of Mining Operations, Australia (cat. no. 8415.0) which presented 2001–02 and 2002–03 results using the new Australian Business Register based population framework. Included in the publication were estimates on the old and new basis to enable the backcasting of national accounts series and to assist external users to understand the changes introduced
  • publication for the first time in the September quarter 2004 Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia (cat. no. 8412.0) mineral exploration expenditure data based on whether the expenditure was related to existing deposits or new deposits
  • completion of a draft Mining Information Development Plan (IDP) which brings together the information needs of users, the existing information available and the identified gaps. The IDP will be refined and finalised following further consultation with stakeholders
  • a successful meeting of the Mining User Advisory Group.

The manufacturing component provides statistics on the structure, performance and production of the manufacturing industry. Data collected and disseminated include selected commodity production statistics and, from an annual survey, extensive statistics on the structure, financial operations, performance, and other characteristics of the manufacturing industry.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of Manufacturing Industry, Australia (cat. no. 8221.0) which presented 2001–02 and 2002–03 results using the new Australian Business Register based population framework. Included in the publication were estimates on the old and new basis to enable the backcasting of national accounts series and to assist external users to understand the changes introduced
  • finalisation of collection strategies to enable the release of Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 based estimates for 2004–05 and 2005–06 with the 2006–07 estimates
  • completion of the first round of user consultations regarding the draft Manufacturing Information Development Plan.

The construction component produces regular indicators of activity for the three components of construction: residential building; non-residential building; and engineering construction. It also produces periodic statistics on the structure, performance and characteristics of the construction industry. The component undertakes and publishes analytical work on an ad hoc basis which explores the relationship between construction activity and societal changes and general economic conditions and developments.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of Private Sector Construction Industry, Australia (cat. no. 8772.0) based on output from the 2002–03 Construction Industry Survey which collected information on the structure and performance of the construction industry
  • publication of a feature article ‘Work in the pipeline in current prices’, in September quarter 2004 Construction Work Done, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 8755.0) relating to construction activity that has been approved, but as yet, has not been undertaken. The article included estimates for the value of work not yet done as well as estimates on the number of dwellings approved, but not yet commenced. Tables on this subject are now included in each issue of the publication
  • publication of a feature article ‘Are we building on smaller blocks?’, in July 2004 Building Approvals, Australia (cat. no. 8731.0) relating to the move towards building larger houses on smaller residential blocks in Australia
  • introduction of changes to the Building Activity Survey which involved estimating the contribution to published estimates from smaller house renovations from their approval value, rather than by direct collection. This resulted in a reduction of 8 per cent in provider load without any significant affect on the published series.

The transport component provides monthly statistics on sales of new motor vehicles, annual statistics of motor vehicle use, and the associated annual motor vehicle censuses which provide data on the characteristics of the Australian vehicle population. The component is responsible for statistical leadership activities in the field of transport statistics, including the development and promotion of standard transport statistical frameworks and classifications.

Achievements during the year included:
  • extensive consultation with the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) data users to identify their data requirements. This consultation is part of a major ‘fitness for purpose’ review of the SMVU undertaken to critically assess how well the outputs meet the needs of users
  • publication of user funded national rail freight surveys for 2001–02 and 2002–03
  • introduction of separate identification of sport utility vehicles in New Motor Vehicle Sales outputs in Sales of New Motor Vehicles, Australia (Electronic Publication) (cat. no. 9314.0).

The service industries component produces statistics on the size, structure, operations and output of a range of Australian service industries. Surveys typically cover a standard set of financial operations information together with a set of activity information tailored to each survey topic.

Achievements during the year included:
  • completion of the round of 2002–03 surveys with the release of: Television, Film and Video Production, Australia (cat. no. 8679.0); and Performing Arts, Australia (cat. no. 8697.0)
  • release of the 2003–04 publications: Museums, Australia (cat. no. 8560.0); Public Libraries, Australia (cat. no. 8561.0); and Tourism Marketing Expenditure, Australia (cat. no. 8691.0)
  • methodological research and user consultations for surveys of sport; gambling; and pubs, clubs and taverns to be conducted in respect of 2004–05
  • survey development and methodological research for the planned 2005–06 surveys of the wholesale and retail trade industries.

The tourism component produces quarterly statistics on the supply and demand for tourist accommodation in Australia, released in Tourist Accommodation, Australia (cat. no. 8635.0) and associated products. These data are a key input into the policy and planning activities of government and industry, particularly at the regional level.

The component also undertakes a strong coordination role, working in partnership with key clients to identify data needs and ensure the availability of a suite of relevant tourism statistics. Other activities include the research and development of tourism performance indicators and the development and promotion of tourism statistical frameworks, standards and concepts.

Achievements during the year included:
  • extending the scope of the quarterly Survey of Tourist Accommodation to include a range of smaller accommodation providers
  • research and analysis to develop a quarterly tourism gross value added indicator.

The environment component collects and publishes environment and energy statistics, including environment accounts. Within these fields, the component plays a coordinating role in the collection of data, undertaking research, and implementing international environmental accounting frameworks for new collections and current data holdings.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of the following publications: Environment Expenditure, Local Government, Australia (cat. no. 4611.0); Water Use on Australian Farms 2002–03 (cat. no. 4618.0); and Domestic Use of Water and Energy, South Australia (cat. no. 4618.4)
  • continued development of the water accounts including: significant contributions to the development of a United Nations Manual on Water Accounting; the establishment of a survey of the water supply and sewage industry; and production of experimental estimates of regional water use by agriculture for 2000–01
  • development of the land parcel survey methodology, including trials in New South Wales and Queensland
  • contributions to the State of the Environment Report due for release in 2006.

The statistical coordination component aims to extend and strengthen the National Statistical Service by improving the value and the use of statistical outputs. The component promulgates good practices in the design, collection and documentation of statistics, and operates the Australian Government Statistical Clearing House which seeks to reduce the load on businesses and to ensure that the quality of surveys to businesses is sufficient to provide the information needed. The component supports several inter-agency fora for coordinating efforts to improve the National Statistical Service. It also supports people producing statistics by providing training, disseminating good practice and developing tools for improving, sharing and acquiring statistics.

Achievements during the year included:
  • development of a search facility to assist users of data identify relevant data from across Australian, state and territory government agencies
  • production of an online Better Practice Checklist for the publication of statistical data
  • completion of 107 reviews, of which 62 per cent resulted in an improvement to the survey or a reduction in provider load
  • release of the National Data Network demonstration system and establishment of a National Data Network web site www.nationaldatanetwork.org
  • provision of cost recovery statistical consultancy services to 18 agencies
  • conduct of 15 training programs and a seminar series on best practice in collecting and using statistical information.

The Australian Economic Indicators sub-component publishes Australian Economic Indicators (cat. no. 1350.0), a monthly compendium of key national, state and international economic time series. It also contains feature articles and provides a quarterly review of the economy.

Achievements for the Australian Economic Indicators sub-component during the year included:
  • publication of 15 feature articles addressing a range of statistical topics and issues
  • improvements to the content and presentation of the ‘quarterly review of the economy’.

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