ABS responds to 'Rubbery figures: Rudd faces budget dilemma' (Australian Financial Review, 17 February 2010, pg 1)

ABS does not consider figures 'rubbery'

Australian Financial Review
Dear Sir

In her article "Rubbery figures: Rudd faces budget dilemma" (AFR: 17 February 2010) , Laura Tingle highlights the well known fact that the three separate measures of GDP can tell a different story for any one quarter. As Laura has explained this is particularly true of recent quarters where the global financial crisis, and the government's response to it, has differentially impacted on incomes, expenditure and production. The average of the three independent measures, nevertheless reflects the ABS's best estimate of quarterly growth, a number which Laura states enjoys the confidence of Treasury and the Reserve Bank.

ABS has acknowledged that errors were made in two components of the September quarter GDP, farm output and household consumption. These occurred in the process of implementing a major, and widely foreshadowed, upgrade in national accounting methods in the September quarter of 2009. These errors were quickly corrected in the revised numbers published on 13 January. They did not affect the headline estimate.

The ABS does not consider its figures to be "rubbery" or misleading, and they are no more subject to revision than those of any other developed economy.

Ian Ewing
Deputy Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics

Published 18 February 2010 (Australian Financial Review, pg 60)