Why the delay? Census 2018 results


Back in March 2018, New Zealand undertook its five-yearly census.  Nine months on, we are no closer to knowing anything about what the census results are. The data are so late that the next general election may be affected. Stuff reports.  Quote.

The next general election is at risk of being compromised due to Census 2018 delays.

The Electoral Commission has confirmed its necessary redraw of electoral boundaries for Election 2020 could be jeopardised by the delayed data.[…]

[…] Electoral Commission chair Sir Hugh Williams QC said the population figures, which come as part of Stats NZ’s initial data release, could come as late as September 2019.

“Anything later than that would really jeopardise the capacity for the Electoral Commission to do its work, assuming the general election was set for the third or fourth quarter of 2020.”

Documents released under the Official Information Act show Stats NZ has acknowledged the high risk of failing its statutory obligation to provide the data.End of quote.

Why is this taking so long?  Here’s what Stats NZ had to say:  Quote.

Work on the first release of 2018 Census data is taking longer than expected due to the complex nature of the task, Stats NZ said today.  End of quote.

You are the department responsible for statistics.  It is your area of expertise.  Your sole purpose is to collate this information.  It happens every 5 years give or take – 2011 was delayed until 2013 because of the Christchurch earthquake.  Was this census significantly more complex than the previous census in 2013?  I can’t imagine how, and all of the technological improvements made since then, including the option to complete it online, can only have made the job easier.  You would think.  Quote.

Stats NZ had previously reported that they had full or partial information for around 90 percent of individuals and indicated further analysis would be required that would delay the first release.

“We now know this is going to take us a bit longer, but by April 2019 we will be able to announce when census data will be available,” Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said.  End of quote.

More than a year after the census was taken, they will be able to tell us when the data will be available.  That’s unbelievable.

The 2013 census was taken on Tuesday 5th March, and census data were released progressively from October 2013.  That’s about 7 months after the census was taken.   Quote:

Stats NZ knows that it didn’t make it easy enough for everyone to take part in the census. This and a number of other factors are being investigated as part of the independent review that is currently under way. The reviewers are due to report their findings in July 2019.  End of quote.

For crying out loud.  A review of the census, which is going to be released almost 18 months after it was taken.  This is a joke.

Where is the Statistics Minister James Shaw on this?  Absent according to StuffQuote:

Shaw, who is in Poland for climate negotiations, said in a statement he remained confident Stats NZ was working hard to produce census data.

“They have been open about the challenges they are facing and are committed to working with their customers and stakeholders to manage the delay.”

Shaw had spoken with other Government ministers about the delay, and said he received regular updates on progress.

He declined to commit Stats NZ to a release date for the data.  End of quote.

James Shaw, instead of skipping off to Poland and trying to placate us with corporate slogans, how about you do your job and tell us when we can expect the data.

 


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