The Worst Census Ever - Media Release


Today marks the end of the reporting period for the 2016 Australian Census.

As of yesterday, the Census was still missing five per cent of households. This is significantly worse than the 2011 Census, which had an undercount rate of 1.7 per cent.

Indeed, in response to questions from Matt Thistlethwaite in the House Standing Committee on Economics, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe acknowledged yesterday that an undercount rate of five per cent was concerning.

Since 1971, the average Census undercount rate has been 1.9 per cent. The worst undercount rate in the Censuses has been 2.7 per cent in 1976 and 2006. ABS.png

 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

The more households are missed in the Census, the less useful the data becomes. Census data is crucial to planning local bus routes, deciding where to open child care centres, and determining school funding. When the Census data is incomplete, Australia suffers.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government left the position of Chief Statistician unfilled for nearly a year, attempted to cut the Census, appointed three ministers in a year who ignored the Census – and then were surprised when the Census went wrong. 

In the end, the Census debacle is the responsibility of the Prime Minister. The Census is one of Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest stuff ups.

While the Turnbull Government has bungled the Australian Census, Canada has just reported its highest response rate ever. Canada’s 2016 Census, carried out primarily online, had a response rate of 98.4 per cent.

Australians have a right to know how many extra taxpayers’ dollars has the Government had to spend above the initial Census 2016 budget in order to rescue it.

How many extra hours have Census Field Officers had to waste repeatedly visiting the homes of people who couldn’t complete the Census online because the site crashed on Census night?

Why did the Turnbull Government botch the Census, and which Minister will take responsibility?

Through estimates and a dedicated Senate inquiry, Labor will get those questions answered for Australians. 


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