Thursday, December 14, 2006

Our next Australian Statistician

The next head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics says he is looking forward to returning to Canberra, but that he is “only sorry there isn’t a beach just that bit closer.”

An ABS veteran, Brian Pink left to run Statistics New Zealand six years ago where he directed both the 2001 and the 2006 census.

The Treasurer Peter Costello late yesterday announced his appointment as the next Australian Statistician, succeeding Dennis Trewin who has resigned and leaves in March.

An economist, who for many years headed the Bureau’s information technology division, Brian Pink is excited about the kind of statistics the ABS will soon be able to deliver.

“More and more local communities want information about themselves, in increasing detail,” he told me on the phone from Wellington last night...

“Technology makes that possible. In both countries we are looking for opportunities to leverage off administrative systems that are created for other reasons – land titles records, council permits, - a whole range of information that before computers sat in index boxes.”

A keen sailor and surfer Brian Pink is sad to be leaving the harbour city of Wellington but he says he is looking forward to moving into the ABS’s new headquarters in Belconnen. “Just before I left the ABS in 2000 I sat on the board that helped draw up the specifications for the building,” he said. “I want to find out how it’s worked.”

Mr Pink said he regarded his new job as a privilege. “I am conscious of the fact that I will be the custodian of an institution right at the heart of what a democracy is all about. It not only keeps the heartbeat of the economy but it is part of the way in which a community judges the performance of the government,” he said.