5501.0.55.001 - Government Financial Estimates, Australia, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/08/2008   
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Statistics presented in Government Finance Estimates, Australia (cat. no. 5501.0.55.001) are based on information provided in, or underlying the published accounting statements and reports of governments. For the Commonwealth Government and all individual state and territory governments the statistics shown in this release are based on information provided in, or underlying, the published budget projections for the financial year.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The term 'Government Finance Statistics' refers to statistics that measure the financial activities of governments and reflect the impact of those activities on other sectors of the economy. The Australian system of Government Finance Statistics (GFS), is designed to provide statistical information on public sector entities in Australia classified in a uniform and systematic way.

GFS enables policy makers and users to analyse the financial operations and financial position of the public sector by the level of government, institutional sector or set of transactions. The system of GFS is based on international standards set out in the System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93) and the International Monetary Fund's Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001).

The system of GFS provides details of revenues, expenses, cash flows and assets and liabilities of the Australian public sector and comprises units which are owned and/or controlled by the Commonwealth, state and local governments.

This release presents Government Finance Estimates (GFE) on a GFS accrual accounting basis for each jurisdiction for the general government sector. The key statements presented are the operating statement and the cash flow statement.


Annual Government Financial Estimates Statistics are released within 2 months from the start of the financial year.


For practical reasons the ABS does not attempt to cover all economic activity of the public sector in its GFS system. Undercoverage can arise because units are omitted or because some activities are not covered. This only occurs when the economic activity of these units is relatively insignificant.

The main influence on the accuracy of GFS data for Commonwealth and state general government are non-sampling error. Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. The most significant of these errors are misreporting of data, and processing errors. Every effort is made to minimise error by working closely with data providers, training of processing staff and efficient data processing procedures.

Data for local governments and the multi-jurisdictional sector are estimated by applying a growth factor to the latest published financial year data, which is for the reference period two years earlier than these estimates.


In 1998-99, the ABS adopted an accrual basis of recording for its GFS. Prior to this the ABS GFS was cash based. In addition to the information published, some GFS data are available back to 1961-62. However, due to the different compilation and data sources, cash flow data from 1998-99 onwards are not directly comparable with earlier cash data. The ABS has not established a quantitative measure of this break in series because the existing data sources do not permit this. Data on a pure accruals basis are only available from 1998-99.

In 1991, the Commonwealth and state Governments resolved to implement a uniform presentation framework (UPF) in their budget documents to introduce uniformity into the presentation of GFS. Variations between ABS statistics and those presented by the jurisdictions can exist because the ABS may:

  • have a different view on classification treatments applied by jurisdictions;
  • employ a different consolidation methodology to those used in jurisdiction treasuries;
  • apply reconciliation adjustments when it consolidates data for all jurisdictions
  • include data which were not available when a jurisdiction's GFS presentations were published.

    The statistics in this release have been compiled using standard definitions, classifications and treatment of government financial transactions to facilitate comparisons between levels of government and between states within a level of government. However, the statistics also reflect real differences between the administrative and accounting arrangements of the various jurisdictions and these differences need to be taken into account when making interstate comparisons. For example, only a state level of government exists in the ACT. The ACT government performs a number of functions which are undertaken by local government authorities in other jurisdictions.

    To compile statistics about the financial activities of a particular level of government, or any other grouping of public sector units, transactions and debtor/creditor relationships between units within the chosen grouping (sector or subsector) have to be matched and eliminated to avoid double counting. The process of matching and eliminating these items within the chosen group is known as 'consolidation'.

    The Commonwealth and each state and territory government publishes (or expects to publish) financial information under the accounting standard AASB 1049 'Whole of Government and General Government Sector Financial Reporting'. This standard contains measures similar to GFS; however, there are also differences in treatments of some transactions.

    While GFS and the Australian System of National Accounts share the same conceptual framework (SNA93), there are methodological differences between GFS and ASNA analytical measures (GFS and ASNA net worth and net lending/borrowing for example). The main differences in the net/lending borrowing measures relate to adjustments for market rates of interest, consumption of fixed capital and ownership transfer costs between the GFS and ASNA. Descriptions of GFS/ASNA reconciliations are outlined in Section 6 of the ABS publication Information Paper: Accruals-based Government Finance Statistics (cat. no. 5517.0).


    The publication Government Finance Estimates, Australia (cat. no. 5501.0.55.001) contains detailed Explanatory Notes and Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics

    Detailed information on the concepts, sources and methods used in compiling GFS can be found in Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5514.0.55.001) electronic version or (cat. no. 5514.0) PDF version.


    If the information you require is not available from the published data then the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, email <client.services@abs.gov.au> or Glynis Orrell on Canberra (02) 6252 5735, email <public.finance@abs.gov.au>.