09 September 2016

Today marks one month since the Turnbull Government oversaw Australia’s worst Census ever.

The revelations this week that Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) executives have warned staff that the return rate of Census forms is at “crisis” levels should surprise no one.

Local residents, however, are being caught up in the fiasco as the ABS has no record of their Census papers, weeks after they were returned.

Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann has called on the Turnbull Government to get its own house in order before blaming local people for the so-called poor response rate.

“My office has been inundated by calls from residents throughout Ipswich and the Somerset Region who are being targeted by ABS Census collectors even though they have returned their papers,” Mr Neumann said.

“Some of these residents have been told to expect a fine even though they have posted their Census form back.

“One Walloon resident, who had completed the Census online before the system crashed, was told by collectors that neither she nor anyone on her side fo the street has completed their forms.

“What has happened to these missing papers and online data? It is simply unacceptable,“ Mr Neumann said.

To date the responsible Minister, Michael McCormack, has failed to address this return rate crisis.

“It is an indictment on the Turnbull Government that Mr McCormack has not addressed why the return rate is in crisis, what the Turnbull Government is doing to address it and what would happen to the Census if this did not improve.

“Residents in Ipswich and the Somerset Region want to know that they will not be penalised for the Government’s inability to process the forms, or secure the data that has been sent to the ABS in good faith.

“The lack of information coming from the Turnbull Government demonstrates it has no idea what is going on and refuses to accept responsibility.

“When the going gets tough, Turnbull's Ministers disappear.”

Mr Neumann said Michael McCormack was leaving his ministerial responsibilities to the ABS and the hard-working Census field officers – officers already under pressure to complete a hard job the Turnbull Government’s incompetence has made much harder.

The rate in the two previous Censuses was 97 percent and 98 per cent, respectively. If this Census has a coverage rate below 98 per cent, then it will have adverse impacts on every Australian community – because the integrity of Census data is crucial to regional planning.

“Once again, it is Labor who must step in to fill the Government’s void.

“Through a Senate inquiry, Labor will ask the hard questions about why the Turnbull Government so badly bungled the Census, and which Minister takes responsibility.”

Mr Neumann urges all residents to complete their Census forms accurately and return them as soon as possible so that the Turnbull Government’s failings do not mar our largest national information-gathering exercise.

Residents who have completed the Census and have been told by Census collectors there is no record of their form should tell collectors they have lodged their forms. They should not lodge a second form.

Concerned residents should contact Mr Neumann’s office on 3201 5300 or email: [email protected].