Statistician responds on migration data (published Sydney Morning Herald 15/9/2003)

Statistician responds on migration data

I take issue with some elements of Ross Gittins' article of 8 September about immigration statistics, particularly the statement which suggests I deliberately withheld information about the extent of possible overstatement of migration.

Contrary to Mr Gittins' assertion, we have been open about the problem and advised users to be careful with the numbers and why. It's possible that some of this advice may not have been communicated as well as it should have been. This will be changed for future issues of the relevant publications.

We do not yet have reliable estimates of the extent of any overstatement but the ABS is working hard to fix the problem of "category jumping" but care is needed to ensure the method developed is robust. The solution will consider the ANU work, although we believe their method is overestimating the required adjustment.

We expect to publish definitive revisions to estimates of migration in December.

Yours sincerely

Dennis Trewin
Australian Statistician

12 September 2003