Senator refuses to fill out Census

SENATOR Nick Xenophon says he won't be giving his name on the Census form tomorrow night.

In a lengthy statement Xenophon - who became one of the most powerful men in Australia after his party had won three seats in the Federal Senate - said he was motivated by a belief that privacy is something society ought to protect. 

"I do not take this step lightly and I do so for the following reasons: First and foremost, privacy matters," he said in a statement this afternoon.

"Privacy has been described as "an inherent human right and requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect".

"Of course the right to privacy must be measured against public interest considerations, national security and public safety being prime examples.

"But it seems the ABS has failed to make a compelling case why names must be provided, and stored for four years, and unlike any other census in this nation's history since that first census on the 2nd of April 1911, all names will be turned into a code that ultimately can be used to identify you."

Mr Xenophon went on to say he had spoken to the former head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Bill McLennan who has also said the requirement to provide your name on the Census represents an unnecessary intrusion into people's privacy. 

"Also in the past week, NSW Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Coombs warned in relation to the census of "a range of risks, not just the misuse" of the information provided," Xenophon said. 

"She also pointed out what I fear, that the mandatory requirement for providing your name, and the way it will be stored and used will be completely counter-productive - that it will undermine the very trust that millions of Australians have had in the census - until now."

Xenophon also referred to a report earlier today by News Limited journalist Natasha Bita which revealed the ABS was considering how it could profit off the names and addresses it collects tomorrow night. 

"Retention of personal identifiers could improve the value of census data through data integration and linking, which would enable new products,'' documents attained by Bita under Freedom of Information laws revealed. 

"Name and address information has the potential to markedly improve the quality of data linkage.''The ABS document said the long-time policy of destroying names "precludes the ability for meeting a business need''.

The document also said the policy of destroying the names collected "precludes the ability for meeting a business need''.

Xenophon said he would write to the leaders of the two major parties to inform them of his position, seek legal reforms to stop people being forced to provide their names and would not encourage others to do the same - as the penalty for failing to complete the Census properly is $180 a day. 

 



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