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ABS reclassification confuses some, upsets others

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' reclassification of the term 'locality' has been confused by some, the bureau says.

TRENT HORNEMAN January 9, 2013 4:23am

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has hit back at Melbourne media which claimed it was stripping the word ‘towns’ from its statistical data.

The reports claimed the ABS was removing the word town when describing communities of less than 200 people.

An ABS spokesman said the bureau had no classification for the term ‘town’ and it played no role in what was officially considered a town.

‘‘What has changed is that in 2011 the ABS moved to the new Australian Statistical Geography Standard in place of the old Australian Standard Geographical Classification,’’ he said.

‘‘The new standard is more flexible allowing statistical data from the Census and other sources to be more easily arranged to meet users’ needs for regional information.

‘‘Under both the new and the old standards, a region with a concentrated residential population between 200 and 999 is classified by the ABS as a ‘Locality’.

‘‘Under the ASGS, it is now easier for a region to be defined as a Locality than had previously been the case.

‘‘In fact, 2011 Census data shows that Australia now has 109 more statistical Localities than in 2006.’’

But former Campaspe Shire councillor Neil Repacholi feared smaller towns would be devalued when it came to accessing funding.

‘‘It goes against everything I have done in 16 years of local government,’’ he said.

‘‘Small communities are up against it when it comes to losing services.

‘‘Campaspe Shire was a state-wide leader when it came to community planning for smaller towns.

‘‘As a shire, we would work with small communities to help give them what they needed.

‘‘There is a tremendous amount of ideas and spirit in smaller communities.

‘‘As a shire we would try to work with these groups to look at what was achievable and use our knowledge to help them.’’

Mr Repacholi said simple works like road maintenance, fixing community halls and sports grounds in small communities were among his greatest achievements during his time on council.

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