A few weeks ago The Register noticed that Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) removed the value of networking kit imports from official statistics.
We've asked why, using a Freedom of Information request that sought to learn the rationale for anonymising the imports data.
That request's come back with a partial success: we've been told that a “potentially identifiable transaction” could have made it into the September 2015 import data save for the ban.
We were also told that releasing the full document “...would have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency.” It's not clear if that agency is the ABS itself, which is bound to keep requests for confidentiality for import data secret, or another agency.
What we do know is that the ABS was happy to anonymise the data to keep the “potentially identifiable transaction” away from prying eyes.
Which begs the question: what transaction took place in September 2015 that deserved anonymity?
If the transaction was made by the government, this AU$114 million purchase for “Combat Net Radio and associated ancillaries” completed on August 31st sure looks interesting. If a final payment was due in August, that could be worth hiding.
Or did something else go down in August that might have been worth keeping away from inquisitive eyes? Let's not assume this was a defence or intelligence matter: as we explained when considering the fact that laptop computer imports have now been hidden, this may just be a case of a vendor not wanting the price it offered for a big deal to be easily deduced.
Hit the forum with theories, or feel free to write if you'd rather not ventilate your theories in public. ®