30 July 2015

Report into National Agricultural Statistics Review released


Joint media release with
The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP
Minister for Agriculture

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer, today delivered on an election commitment, releasing the final report of the National Agricultural Statistics Review to better underpin the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Minister Joyce said the report was the culmination of more than two years' work by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and outlines a blueprint for ensuring Australia's agricultural statistics remain world-class, providing comprehensive data to better inform decision-making.

"The review focused on the Australian Government's enduring goals for a competitive and profitable agriculture sector- prosperous communities, sustainable use of our natural resources, growing trade and market access and protecting animal, plant and human health and welfare," Minister Joyce said.

"ABARES and the ABS consulted widely with stakeholders, including state and territory governments, industry, academics and the general community to ensure everyone's views were heard.

"High quality industry statistics underpin the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia's agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries."

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer, said the review was ground-breaking in the way it provided an opportunity for both the ABS and ABARES to jointly examine the agricultural statistical system in Australia and look for areas for improvement.

"A significant part of the review was the rich and detailed contributions from all sectors of the agricultural statistical community," Ms O'Dwyer said.

"These contributions identified a range of opportunities for innovation and collaboration that will reduce respondent burden, improve data quality and statistical infrastructure and improve coordination and governance across the system."

The report identifies a clear set of actions addressing stakeholder concerns. The ABS and ABARES have already commenced processes to implement some of these, including better coordination of government statistical collection activities; encouraging and supporting other organisations to use best-practice statistical collection methods; adopting new and emerging technologies wherever possible; and ensuring compliance in the use of the Statistical Clearing House.

In addition, the report identifies ways to improve the agricultural statistical system in the long term, including reduced survey burden particularly for farmers; improved data quality and ways to address gaps in data.

Minister Joyce said leadership by the ABS and ABARES in progressing change, beginning with better coordination of government statistical collection activities, was strongly supported by stakeholders.

"Making better use of data, embracing new technologies and encouraging sharing of information will give farmers and industry time to focus on other areas of their businesses," Minister Joyce said. 

"The ABS and ABARES have strong support from the agricultural community to work together and with stakeholders to progress actions arising from the review.

"This collaborative approach will ensure Australia has a world-class, effective and enduring agricultural statistical system. A system that is agile, cost-effective and a rich source of quality data for farmers, commodity analysts and traders."

The report is available from the ABS website.