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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2760

Senator SIBRAA —I refer the Minister representing the Treasurer to a report earlier this week in the Australian Financial Review-I think it appeared on Tuesday-with regard to the national accounts data in which it is claimed that ' the extent of the recovery in Australia remains clouded' because of discrepancies between income-based and expenditure-based estimates that applied. Can the Minister give any indication whether there is any substance to these claims? If so, what action will the Australian Bureau of Statistics be taking in the future to correct the situation?

Senator WALSH —Senator Sibraa asked whether there was any substance in the point made in the Australian Financial Review. I think the answer is that there could be substance in it but nobody can be certain at this time. The ABS traditionally measures both the income stream and the expenditure stream in attempting to measure total gross domestic product. Because of imperfections in data collection and probably in the analysis, I can not remember any occasion on which the measurement of those two streams has produced an identical result, and from time to time they diverge to a significant extent. There is not a prior reason to believe that one is more accurate than the other.

However, I think it is worth noting that in the most recent national accounts figures which have been issued the difference between the income and expenditure streams as measured-or in statisticians' jargon, the statistical discrepancy-is considerably narrower than it was in the previous quarter. So whatever importance or validity that point may have had, it now has less than it had in the immediately preceding period.

As to the last part of the question on what action can be taken to correct this , I am not sure whether the Treasurer or the ABS has any proposals in mind in an attempt to improve the accuracy of the data collection or analysis. If there are any, I will try to find out what they are and supply the answer.