Friday, March 4, 2011

Australian Data Lacunae

I spent most of yesterday at a workshop sponsored by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism on establishing an energy efficiency framework for Australia. The government has made improved energy efficiency a priority but now faces the challenge of being able to measure progress on that goal. My main impression from the meeting was the paucity of data available in Australia on many issues compared to the data available in comparable countries. For example, series on the production of some commodities that were previously produced by ABS have been discontinued. According to ABS staff participating in the workshop this is due to a lack of funding. A lot of data will be available from the new NGERS system. But it wasn't designed for statistical purposes and it won't sample businesses below the reporting threshold. Therefore, extrapolation to the whole economy from the sample of larger businesses could be very misleading.

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