Science & Health

Tony Abbott Wants To Cancel The 2016 Census

Australia’s next census in 2016 was supposed to be the first to be conducted entirely electronically. Now there are rumblings that the Abbott Federal government wants to cancel it altogether. Who needs all that inconvenient data getting in the way of your decisions?

Picture: Getty Images/Stefan Postles

The SMH reports that the government is considering ditching the 2016 census, even though planning has been taking place since the last one in 2011 and millions have been spent preparing for an all-online approach. That would cost more to set up initially, but be cheaper in the long run because fewer survey collectors would be needed. Where have we seen this government cut something for short-term savings rather than looking at long-term costs? Oh yes, the NBN.

There’s a telling anecdote in the SMH story which shows the usual unwillingness to directly answer questions:

Asked directly whether the 2016 census would go ahead as planned on August 9, a spokeswoman for the parliamentary secretary to the treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer read from a prepared statement. It said: “The government and the Bureau of Statistics are consulting with a wide range of stakeholders about the best methods to deliver high quality, accurate and timely information on the social and economic condition of Australian households.” Asked whether that was an answer to the question: “Will the census go ahead next year?” the spokeswoman replied that it was.

Funding for the ABS was drastically slashed in last year’s budget.

We live in a country with a government that doesn’t want to pay for detailed national statistics but is happy to spend $400 million a year on a highly dubious and rushed-through metadata retention scheme with no evidential backing. Welcome to Australia in 2015. [SMH]


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