The Australian Bureau of Statistics faced the music at estimates yesterday, admitting that the bungle with the census website cost the agency $30 million, eating into the $100 million saving that had been promised by moving the survey online. Head Statistician David Kalisch told the committee that the ABS had made “poor judgments” in preparing the census. Kalisch also answered questions on the decision to keep names and addresses collected for four years instead of 18 months, and admitted that the ABS could have done better in the consultation process associated with that decision. “In hindsight … the process that we put in place was not as robust and strong as it should have been.”

The questioning took about 40 minutes, but is just a preview of what we can expect at a Senate inquiry into the census debacle next week.

Peter Fray

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