Australian Bureau of Statistics
3129.0 - Demography Working Paper 2001/7 - Statistical Requirements for Overseas Arrivals and Departures Data at September 2001, 2001
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/11/2001
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THE OUTWARD PASSENGER CARD
The outward passenger card provides data on all long-term and permanent departures from Australia which are essential to maintain the accuracy of State/Territory population estimates. The population estimates are used for a number of very important and politically sensitive purposes, including for electoral determinations and the distribution of funds to the States. In the five-year period 1992-96, there were 0.7 million long-term and permanent departures from Australia. Correctly estimating the number of departures and the distribution by State is crucial to the accuracy of State/Territory population estimates. No alternative source of this information is available.
The Census and Statistics Act 1905 requires the Australian Statistician to compile and publish population estimates on a quarterly basis. This requirement was included in the Act following a High Court decision in the Electoral Case (Attorney-General Cth; Ex rel. McKinley v The Commonwealth (1975) 135 CLR1). An opinion of the Law Officers at that time said that "it necessarily follows that the States' respective populations be reliably determined". Any decision which might impact on this reliability would need to take into account whether the change afforded grounds for the High Court to hold that the number of each State's members in the House of Representatives is not in proportion to its population, as required by the Constitution. In this regard, an addition of just 656 people in the ACT's population would have given it three rather than two seats at the February 1997 electoral re-distribution.
Population estimates are required for the administration of A New Tax System (Commonwealth-State Financial Arrangements) Act 1999 and the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. Estimates of State/Territory populations directly impacted on the allocation of $35 billion in 2000-2001. If the data from passenger cards had not been available in the period 1992-96 and ABS had to rely on an assumption such as departures were distributed in accordance with State populations, then the resulting inaccuracy in the population estimates would have led to New South Wales being over-allocated by $132 million, Western Australia by $27 million and ACT by $44 million over the five year period. The remaining States would have been under-allocated.
The outward passenger card enables the identification of permanent departures separately from long-term departures. This information is needed to determine the net permanent migration gain from year to year. It is important that the Government knows the extent to which permanent departures are likely to offset permanent arrivals in its annual setting of the Migration Program. The outward passenger card also provides data on the occupation (skills) of permanently departing residents. While some substitute data are available, without passenger card data the Government's ability to determine the skills requirements and composition of the annual Migration Program would be compromised. Tourism uses of data captured from the outward passenger card include reason for journey and country of stay for residents departing temporarily.
On administrative uses, the outward passenger card provides fall back in the event of system failure and is used in administration of Australia's currency laws. The Australian Customs Service in 1998 advised that the current outward passenger card has a negligible affect on the time taken for passenger processing.
Past proposals to combine Australian and New Zealand cards have not succeeded because of administrative reasons. Given these administrative reasons can be resolved and if all the Australian statistical requirements are met, ABS would have no objection to a combined card. However, ABS notes that there is not enough space on one card of the current size to collect all Australian and New Zealand data required for each of the country’s migration statistics and that changes to definitions would be required.
Australian Bureau of Statistics
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This page last updated 8 December 2006