Monday, 15 August 2016

The fallout from #CensusFail continues......

It is now the sixth day after Cenus Night 2016 in Australia and information has been slowly seeping out into the public domain.

First there's the genuine attempts to explain the spectacular failure to launch as opposed to the ABS-Turnbull Government propaganda on the subject.......

Reddit user mykro76 via @Qldaar, 10 August 2016:

Sortius, 10 August 2016:

So, I contacted Softlayer support, this was their response @ABSCensus #CensusFail

Patrick Gray at Risky.Biz on #CensusFail, 11 August 2016:

Community and Public Service Union, media release, 12 August  2016:


The CPSU says the highly qualified and dedicated staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics must not be blamed for the decisions by the Turnbull Government that are the real cause of Tuesday night’s Census debacle.

The union’s National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “Our members working in the ABS have slugged their guts out for months to make this Census work despite multiple Government decisions that have caused major problems. They know how critical the information collected in the Census is to the nation and they’re absolutely gutted at the damage done to the ABS's reputation and the Census itself.”

“Staff saw these problems coming a mile off. There are 700 fewer staff at the ABS now than when the last Census was conducted five years ago and as a result staff are suffering under massive workloads. Critical planning time was lost as the Government foolishly considered axing the Census, chopped and changed ministers three times and dilly-dallied for nearly a year in appointing a new chief statistician.”

“It’s shameful that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said ‘heads will roll’ at the ABS over the Census while taking no responsibility for the real cause of this debacle, the decisions made by his Government.”

“It is Governments that are responsible for the reliability of public services and the Turnbull Government cannot dodge responsibility for slashing budgets and jobs. Prime Minister Turnbull should be apologising not finger pointing.”

“This situation in the ABS is just one example of how cuts to public sector staffing and capacity have gone too far, and how it’s ultimately the Australian public that suffers as a result.

Australians are struggling to get through on the Census hotline today, but that’s no less disturbing than the one in three calls to Medicare and Centrelink that go unanswered every day.”

“The dedication of ABS staff has ensured the Census has played a critical role in public policy in Australia for more than a century. It remains an important tool and we are urging Australians to participate despite the Government’s failings.”

Unsurprisingly the privacy concerns haven't gone away........

Digital Rights Watch, 12 August 2016:

The letter, signed by prominent privacy advocates, academics and journalists, reads:

The conduct of this year’s census raises serious and pressing ethical, legal, security and technological concerns. These throw doubt on the value of the exercise and the quality of the data collected.

The Australian government must put the Census 2016 on hold while it consults with the Australian people on the value and ethical ramifications of this and similar mass data-collection exercises. Expert input and advice must be sought to determine best practice ethical, governance and security standards for data collection, use, linkage, storage, and real-world implementation.

These problems, and the difficulties Australians have experienced in accessing and completing both the paper and electronic forms, make imperative the provision of the following two remedies.

We therefore respectfully request:
1. Amnesty for anyone who files a late or incomplete census
2. An independent inquiry into the ABS’s conduct of Census 2016. This should include a comparison of the ethical and institutional governance arrangements for hard-copy and electronic data collection, storage, linkage and use with international and best practice standards. Community consultation should take place in regard to the appointment of heads of this inquiry, precise terms of reference and timeframes for reporting.

Signed by:

Tim Norton, Digital Rights Watch
Amy Gray, Digital Rights Watch
Asher Wolf, journalist
Dr Suelette Dreyfus
Peter Tonoli
Jenna Price
Liam Pomfret, Australian Privacy Foundation
Mark Walkom, Australian Privacy Foundation
Simon Frew, Pirate Party Australia
Felicity Ruby, PhD Candidate
Professor Ariadne Vromen
Tim Cashmere
Mary Kostakidis, Freelance Journalist
Gautam Raju, Campaigner
Jack Skinner
Dr Leslie Cannold
Melissa Castan, Law Lecturer
Dr Ben Harris-Roxas
Professor Robert Sparrow
Robin Doherty, Hack for Privacy
Dr Kristoffer Greaves, Legal Educator
Archie Law, CEO ActionAid Australia
Thomas Kane
Kate Galloway, Law Lecturer
Tom Sulston, Technology Consultant
Trisha Jha
Suzy Wood, IP Lawyer
Justin Clacherty, Future Wise Australia
Cade Diehm, SpiderOak
Trent Yarwood, Future Wise Australia
Julian Burnside AO QC
Dr Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, QUT Faculty of Law
Dan Nolan, software engineer

Then there's those zealous casual employees on the ABS Census team attempting to salvage something from the wreckage…….

The mocking has even spread into mainstream media on Northern Rivers…….

The Daily Examiner, 13 August 2016:

SORRY guys, looks like we caused the Census website to crash, but it was worth it.
We only told one little lie but suddenly our street is crawling with engineers, government types, teachers, plumbers, interpreters, shopping centre magnates and consultants.
Man, we haven't seen so many consultants since they sold Telstra.
Anyway, it was all part of objecting to have to put your name on the Census.
Not sure why we're objecting, everyone knows me and I would be happy if someone stole my identity. I could just slip away quietly and watch the fireworks.
They are as welcome to the $10 in my bank account as they are to my dog, and well, truth be known, Ms L. probably would appreciate the change too, and it'd be cheaper than a holiday for her.
But if it's not good enough for Nick X, then it's not good enough for us, so I didn't use my name.
However I did say that there were 23,000 people staying at our place that night and that's when the fun started.
We ensured half the number were children so the Education Department has acquired land for a primary school, a high school, half a TAFE and a branch of some wannabe regional uni, all within a kilometre.
Westfield is knocking down the other houses in our neighbourhood and building a shopping centre.
The Department of Transport built a bus interchange across the road (guess we didn't make the cut for an airport, but gee it gave Badgerys Creek a fright).
There's a new hospital with no queues on a Saturday night. However that might be because of the lockout laws. Yeah, we didn't see that coming. Apparently when you get that many people together they want to stay up late and party. Well, der. But this is Australia, mate, not Paris or Berlin, New York or London.
We're locked out after dark and the internet doesn't work, but gee the other services are good and I'll drink to that. BYO at home, that is.
Sorry about the website thing.

An important point that shouldn't be lost in all the media noise........
Finally, an estimation of how many premises and or households are still missing in action (including an unknown number involved in acts of civil disobedience)......

It is possible that as of today the Australian Bureau of Statistics only holds an est. 30-45 per cent of all Census forms (paper & online) it anticipated receiving.

The statistical margin of error flowing from that sort of respondent percentage would be too large to make it a credible national snapshot of population and housing.

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