Twitter/Jess Wheeler

ABS apologises for 'bum sex' gaffe on same-sex survey

THE Australian Bureau of Statistics has apologised for an embarrassing gaffe that saw the words 'bum sex' appear in the barcode of a postal survey for the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

The barcode in question appeared on the form mailed to the friend of Melbourne man Jess Wheeler.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) deputy statistician Jonathan Palmer admitted barcodes, issued by an algorithm that generated 'two quintillion' alphanumerical sequences, did not undergo checks for any offensive material.

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"The ABS acknowledges that in issuing 16 million barcodes it did not check and remove words and phrases that may be offensive," Palmer told the Sunday Telegraph.

"The ABS apologises to the survey recipient and will issue a new form if requested.

"The ABS will check newly issued barcodes."

Mr Wheeler said the gaffe showed the ABS was not taking enough care with the sensitivity surrounding the same-sex marriage debate.

"I don't think you guys are taking this thing seriously," he wrote in a tweet of the barcode.

Australians will have a chance to have their say on same-sex marriage if they post their survey back to the ABS by October 27.

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