Evidence of the Government's interest in statistical information is seen as early as 1796 when a Government and General Order was issued regarding the returns of livestock, and in 1797 a Government and General Order was issued regarding the returns of convicts. (1)
From 1822 to 1857 the Returns of the Colony or Blue Books were the official record of statistical returns compiled annually in the Colonial Secretary's Office. The Returns recorded statistical information about revenue and expenditure, taxes and duties, military and public works, population, imports and exports, weights and measures, agriculture and manufactures, goals and prisoners, grants of land and other matters. (2)
The Returns were compiled retrospectively from groups of returns completed by various officials, and Benches of Magistrates in various districts. (3)
In 1848 the Registrar General assumed the responsibility of collecting the returns and the New South Wales Statistical Register was first published in 1859. The Statistical Branch of the Registrar General's Department undertook this work from 1858 to 1886. (4)
On 5 July 1886 the first Government Statistician, Timothy Coghlan, was appointed. His office was under the direction of the Colonial Secretary. (5)
On 2 September 1908 a notice appeared in the Government Gazette stating that the Bureau of Statistics was transferred by Administrative Arrangement from the Premier's Department to the ministerial control and direction of the Chief Secretary. (6)
In 1924 the Bureau of Statistics was transferred to the Colonial Treasurers Department. (7)
The Statistics (Arrangements of States) Act was passed by the Commonwealth Government becoming law on 12 May 1956. This act enabled the making of agreements with individual States for the setting up of integrated statistical services. The object of such an agreement was that, in each State accepting it, there would be an integrated statistical service operated by the Commonwealth statistical officers under the immediate direction of a statistician in the State who would hold office under both the Commonwealth and State governments. Both the Commonwealth and the State would be adequately served with statistics, and no State would be required to surrender its existing powers in the field of statistics. (8)
On 30 August 1957 the Commonwealth and State statistical organisations within New South Wales were integrated as the New South Wales Office of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. (9)
Footnotes and References:
(1) Index to the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence 1788-1825, p.4146.
(2) Concise Guide to the State archives of New South Wales, p.60.
(3) Loc. cit.
(4) Loc. cit.
(5) NSW Government Gazette, 5 July 1886, p.4718.
(6) NSW Government Gazette, 2 September 1908, p.4772.
(7) Concise Guide, op. cit.
(8) Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, No. 44-1958, Canberra, Commonwealth Government Printer, 1958, p.1108.
(9) Concise Guide, op. cit.