Second residence question excluded from 2016 Census
THE Australian Coastal Councils Association said it is disappointed to learn the 2016 Census will not include a proposed new question on the ownership and use of second residences.
Barry Sammels, Chair of the Association, said the Census is conducted mid-week in winter and therefore does not capture data on the large number of visitors and absentee property owners who are in coastal areas at other times of the year.
"This results in the permanent populations in many coastal areas being understated which has a significant impact on planning and funding for infrastructure and services in coastal communities," he said.
"Research conducted for our Association by the University of Adelaide found the fluctuation between coastal populations in mid-winter and at other times of the year can be as high as 30%.
"But because the permanent population figures are based on the lower mid-winter figures it means coastal councils and communities are missing out on a fair share of financial assistance grants and other resources."
Barry Sammels said coastal councils had put considerable effort into researching the issue and had worked closely with Australian Bureau of Statistics to help develop a question on the proposed new topic.
"The additional data collected would have gone some way towards establishing more realistic population figures for coastal communities and other areas such as those with a high fly-in fly-out population," he said.
"Our members also lobbied vigorously earlier this year to have the Census retained following proposals to scrap it as a means of reducing the budget deficit.
"The Association is pleased the national Census will proceed in 2016 but we are disappointed it will not include the additional question which would have helped to provide a more accurate picture of population levels in Australia's coastal communities."