Can’t make it onto the Census website tonight? The ABS says its server infrastructure is pretty sturdy, but as with all things running electricity through silicon there are no guarantees. If you don’t complete your Census form tonight — for whatever reason — you won’t automatically be fined the government’s default $180 per day penalty. The actual deadline is around six weeks away.
The deadline for delivering a completed Census for every Australian household is September 23. That’s the word from general manager of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census and Statistical Network Division, Chris Libreri, who told News.com.au that despite August 9 being D-day, “no-one has ever been fined for being late with their Census form.”
That $180 daily fine, along with another $1800 one-off penalty, is for those that refuse to complete the Census entirely, for whatever reason — including an ideological objection to the idea of any Census whatsoever, rather than just an objection to supplying personally identifiable data. Senator Nick Xenophon will not be supplying his name, but going on the ABS’ comments it’s not likely that he’ll be fined — even if it’s just to make a public example.
You can, of course, request a paper form by contacting the Census Inquiry Service, although with the high level of contact the ABS is getting you might have to wait quite a while for it to be delivered and subsequently returned. The Census website itself says that “it is highly likely that your call will not be answered today. Please do not worry if you have not received your Census materials. You will not be fined if you complete your Census after Census night. Please try calling again after August 10 when we expect call volumes to reduce.”
And, on the issue that’s on everyone’s minds — to keep your name off the Census form without being fined, the Census director for Western Australia told ABC Drive Perth that if the Census form is correctly filled out apart from the personally identifiable name data, “the bottom line answer to that is no” — you shouldn’t get fined. It’s not looking like fines are likely for this bit of civil disobedience — only around 100 individuals were fined for not completing the last Census, for example — although there are no guarantees coming from directly within the ABS one way or another.