BLADE Data and Legislation

Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) data is used to study how businesses fare over time and the factors that drive performance, innovation, job creation, competitiveness and productivity. As the ABS is an Accredited Integrating Authority, additional data sources can be integrated to BLADE for approved projects and subject to agreement from data custodians.

BLADE information is protected by the Census and Statistics Act 1905, which requires the ABS to maintain the confidentiality of information collected under the Act. This legal requirement to protect confidentiality also applies for analysts authorised by the ABS to access BLADE microdata.

Data in BLADE

Data is provided for access on a ‘need to know’ basis in accordance with the requirements for approved projects. BLADE contains data items from the following datasets:

    • Indicative data items, 2001-02 to 2016-17 (e.g. State of operation, Postcode, ANZSIC 2006, SISCA 2008, Type of Legal Operation, etc.)
    • Business Activity Statement (BAS), 2001-02 to 2016-17
    • Payment Summaries (PAYG), 2001-02 to 2016-17
    • Business Income Tax (BIT), 2001-02 to 2016-17
    • ABS Business Characteristics Survey (BCS), 2005-06 to 2016-17 and Management Capabilities Module (MCM), financial year 2015-16
    • ABS Economic Activity Survey (EAS), 2006-07 to 2016-17
    • ABS Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD), financial years 2004-05 to 2011-12,  2013-14, 2015-16
    • ABS Private Non-Profit Expenditure on Research and Development (PNPERD), financial years  2008-09, 2011-12, 2012-13,  2014-15, 2016-17
    • ABS Survey of Research and Experimental Development, Government (GOVERD), financial  years 2008-09, 2011-12, 2012-13,  2014-15,  2016-17
    • IP Australia: Intellectual Property Longitudinal Research Data (IPLORD) 2001-02 to 2016-17

BLADE is expanding to include new sources of data to meet policy and research priorities. Sources of data that are being explored for potential inclusion in the enduring BLADE asset or as once-off linkage to BLADE data for specific projects are:
    • Australian Securities and Investments Commission Birth Date
    • ABS Agriculture Census and Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey datasets
    • ABS Energy, Water and Environment Survey
    • Environment and energy data

Data from a number of Government departments has also been integrated for one-off and DIPA projects over recent years is available for new research projects subject to data custodian and ABS approvals. Some of these data sources include:
    • Department of Industry Innovation and Science program data
    • South Australia Government data:
      - Return to Work South Australia
      - South Australian Government Program Indicators
      - Revenue South Australia

Legislative Authority

The ABS is authorised to collect, compile, analyse, and publish statistics under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (CSA).This authorises the ABS to perform a number of functions including conducting surveys and the Census, collecting information from other government departments and linking collected data to other information, to compile statistical information for analysis and dissemination. The ABS is subject to the Privacy Act 1988 and to the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act. In addition to the Privacy Act, the data collected by the ABS under the CSA (including information used in BLADE) is protected by the secrecy provisions of the CSA, which prohibits information of a personal or domestic nature relating to a person (including sole proprietors) being disclosed in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of that person.

The ATO datasets used in BLADE are subject to conditions relating to their disclosure, provision, security and use conditions. The Australian Business Register (ABR) data is disclosed to the ABS under the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999, while ATO data is disclosed to the ABS under the Taxation Administration Act 1953. These require that data are used only for the purpose of administering the CSA. The ABS is obligated to maintain the confidentiality of these ABR and ATO datasets as well as comply with provisions that govern the use and release of this information, including the Privacy Act 1988. Identifiable data pertaining to sole traders and partnerships are in scope of the Privacy Act 1988.

Section 13 of the CSA 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 Census and Statistics (Information Release and Access) Determination 2018 (the Determination) is such a determination and provides for the release of a restricted range of information, including identifiable information about businesses and organisations, under special circumstances.

Access to BLADE microdata is managed to protect privacy and confidentiality. Access to the BLADE microdata is limited to ABS staff or persons seconded to the ABS, with a genuine 'need to know'. In addition, section 15 of the Census and Statistics (Information Release and Access) Determination 2018 (the Determination), enables the Australian Statistician to provide access to unidentified information, such as the BLADE data, to other individuals for statistical or research purposes. Under current arrangements, government employees, government contractors, and individuals sponsored by government (including academics) who are working on approved projects can apply to access BLADE microdata.

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