Members’ News

In Memoriam: Ian Castles (1935 – 2010)

20 August 2010
in memoriam

Ian Castles died in Canberra on 2 August 2010 after a short illness. He was aged 75 years and was still very intellectually active at the time of his death. 

Ian Castles
Ian Castles

Ian was President of the International Association of Official Statistics (IAOS) for the 1991-93 term. 

Ian was born in rural Victoria in 1935. Whilst he undertook his primary education in local schools, he boarded at Wesley College for his secondary education. He undertook university studies at Melbourne University where he was awarded a Bachelor of Commerce. 

Ian had an intellect of the highest order and certainly had the ability to undertake higher studies but there were higher priorities. Ian married Glenice in 1962 and they had five children. They shared many things together including the pleasures of many ISI Sessions. He had an outstanding career. Although he only spent some of that time as a statistician, he was always a significant and very well informed user of statistics, even postretirement. 

Ian had an outstanding public career in Australia. Prior to starting at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), some of his senior positions were Under-Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, where he headed the Economics Division, and Secretary of the Department of Finance from 1979 to 1986. He was appointed to this position at the relatively young age of 44. He was appointed Australian Statistician, head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1986. Some saw this as a downward step from the higher profile Finance Secretary job but Ian saw it as the ideal job. He was now in a position to influence the type of statistics that the ABS produced to support policy analysis. Furthermore, he could influence the way statistics were presented to better support the needs of the user community. This was a desire that remained until his retirement in 1994 even though there were very substantial improvements in the ABS outputs in that time. Certainly the statistical work of the ABS became much more professional under his stewardship. It was not his only contribution – he took every opportunity, both internally and externally, to reinforce the importance of independence, objectivity and integrity.