Wednesday, April 10, 2019

No wonder she didn't want to answer

Last week, Parliament threatened the Chief Statistician with contempt to force her to produce basic statistics on last year's census. This morning, she finally produced them. And its become clear why she wanted to keep them secret: because the census was a disaster:

The government's chief statistician Liz MacPherson has finally revealed how many New Zealanders did not complete last year's census.

Ms MacPherson had been threatened with being held in contempt of Parliament, prompting her to write to MPs yesterday to confirm almost one in seven Kiwis didn't complete the census.

Partial responses at the 2014 census were two percent. That number more than doubled to five percent last year.

That's a hell of a data hole, and it means the information we use to plan our schools, hospitals, and election boundaries may not be reliable. As for who is responsible, it was National who pushed for the all-online census, a method which deliberately excluded anyone without an internet connection. And they did this not because the technology would work, but to save money. Instead, it looks like it is going to be a very expensive decision. So naturally, they're all pretending that it is someone else's fault...

Hopefully StatsNZ has learned the lesson: online is a supplement, not a replacement. Things like the census are too important to do on the cheap. Hopefully they'll remember that next time, and demand the money to do it properly.