NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

On this site are most of the important things I have written for Fairfax and the ABC over the past few decades. I recommend the Search function. The site is a record for you, as well as me.

I'll continue to post great things from The Conversation and other places here, and also on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meanwhile the ABS is doing its best... get good statistics

Adelaide Advertiser reports:

"An 85-year-old stroke victim and his 80-year-old wife have been threatened with fines of $110 for every day they refuse to be part of an Australian Bureau of Statistics employment survey.

Antonia Van Den Berg and her invalid husband, Bert, of Kilburn, are among 27,000 households used by the ABS for its monthly survey to determine the nation's official unemployment rate.

Mrs Van Den Berg has told the ABS she and her husband do not think their views on the job market are relevant – they would not be looking for work, and were tired of being asked questions about employment.

"I just want them to go away – we are so old and we don't want to be pushed around and told we will be fined $110 a day as punishment," she said.

"They are asking us things like how many hours we work, which is just silly, and they demand to be let into the house and demand we answer questions."

Mrs Van Den Berg said she could not sleep because of the threats and was scared of being fined."