Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"When human beings are involved you make mistakes" ABS makes NSW Australia's top wine producer

For a fortnight

For a brief shining fortnight NSW has been officially the biggest wine-producing state in the nation.

Its ascension over the long-term leader South Australia passed almost unnoticed until Monday when the Adelaide Advertiser took the Bureau of Statistics at its word and reported the state had "lost its long-held position as the nation's largest wine-producing state for the first time since early last century."

"Drought, lack of irrigation water and the closure of several large wineries have made their mark," it reported noting that production had dropped from a peak of 733 million litres to only 424 million litres last year, while NSW had climbed to 425 million litres.

It followed up with an editorial headed "Wine bottle half empty" and an on-line poll asking whether South Australian wines were really superior to those from regions such as the Hunter and Mudgee.

Only then did the Bureau decide to recheck its figures...

"We were getting inquires so we rechecked the data and found a problem with coding," said ABS branch head Paul Williams.

"South Australia produced 519 million litres last financial year, not the 424 million we said".

"It still leads NSW."

Mr Williams explained that the national total was correct, but not the state breakdown. Operators had classified wineries by the state of ownership rather than the state in which they were located.

"As with any of these things when you've got human beings involved you can make mistakes. We always try our best to get it right but that's what happened.

"We didn't know until the Advertiser reported the matter."

NSW will officially lose its crown when the ABS corrects its website at 11.30 this morning.

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