LETTER: Census data
WHEN changes were announced regarding the collection of data for the 2016 Census, I must admit to feeling some scepticism of the outcome.
Instead of a drop-off and pick-up collection process, we could now do the Census online.
In the media, out trotted the ABS smiling bureaucrats announcing how wonderful this was embracing the latest technology - saving $100 million!
Part of my scepticism was based on the fact that 2014 Tasmanian figures had shown 49% of all Tasmanians over the age of 15 were functionally illiterate, meaning they had insufficient skills to process the information from news
Also with privacy issues, how many would fill out the forms accurately?
One usually views things in isolation and all went well for us.
We didn't request a form, but one was hand-delivered to our door.
We completed the Census on August 9, posting it next day.
We could have gone online but opted for the paper format.
However, two relatives tried phoning the ABS for half a day the previous week only to receive it by mail on August 12.
How many situations like this were out there?
As it has turned out, what a monumental stuff-up Census night and post Census night has become.
It's like a Carry On comedy - Carry On Census and brought to us by overpaid taxpayer-funded bureaucratic idiots with no idea of the real world.
The Census is supposed to provide a snapshot of the nation on a specific night, in this case August 9.
But most Australians couldn't fill out their Census online on August 9 or didn't have a paper form!
Most Australians aren't now going to be doing what they have done for 100 years - filling out their Census forms on the same day as everybody else.
The picture painted will be distorted to say the least.
Then there's the issue of trying to get people to have another go.
A lot won't bother despite a threat of a $180 a day fine.
Given the $3500 million of government uncollected debt touted during the recent election, one would be on safe ground.
The 2016 Census may ultimately need to be scrapped wasting $300-$400 million of taxpayers' money.
What statistician would willingly accept it as accurate?
The data is now useless and the situation unrepairable.
However, there are far more serious and far-reaching consequences from this carry on - the breaking of a bond between government and its citizens.
It was all of us contributing to something we're assured is important only to find that the computer started smoking.
The ancient Romans did a better job minus technology. That's why Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem 2016 years ago.