The campaign to boycott tonight’s census has gained some high-profile members, with a handful of senators announcing that they will not be providing their names and addresses to the census due to privacy concerns.
Nick Xenophon was the first to announce yesterday, saying that privacy is a human right. “The ABS with the support of the Australian government is about to trash that human right and the way they’ve done so has been completely undignified and disrespectful to all Australians,” he said.
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam will also not be providing his name, telling the ABC’s Lateline: “If the US Department of State, and the CIA, and the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection weren’t able to prevent themselves from being hacked — if these big, well resourced entities aren’t able to protect people’s private information, there’s nothing about the ABS that gives you confidence that couldn’t happen in the future.”
Fellow Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will not be giving the ABS her name or that of her daughter. She said on Sky News, “I think there are legitimate concerns people have about their privacy.”
“I’ve decided I will fill out the form but I won’t put my name or my daughter’s name on the form,” she said.
The Greens’ Janet Rice will also refuse to give her name and address, tweeting “Not an easy decision to withhold my name from the Census, but too many privacy concerns have outweighed the benefits”.
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie believes giving names and addresses to the census could be especially dangerous to Defence veterans and police officers. “I have had death threats in the past so I am very concerned about putting my name and address on that census data.” She wants exemptions for people with protected identity status. “I am not keen on putting my name and address on there, I’ll tell you that right now.”
One Senator who hasn’t commented on the census is Derryn Hinch. In his former life as a broadcaster, the new member of Parliament has previously told people not to return their census forms, and held a similar conviction against compulsory voting.
UPDATE: A previous version of this story quoted Janet Rice as saying that she would not be including her daughter’s name on the census, that quote should have been attributed to Sarah Hanson-Young.