Young man wearing a hoodie breaking through his computer with his fist
Young man wearing a hoodie breaking through his computer with his fist bowie15

Strange Politics: Holy dooly the Census was a cock-up

HOW about that Census, hey? As far as national cock-ups go, that was a giant, dribbling soup sandwich on par with head-butting the Queen and shooting her corgis.

Senator Nick Xenophon's civilly disobedient vow to keep his name off the national survey has been rendered a moot point since only a handful of people got their information through before everything went to the dogs.

Humiliating, yes. Foreseeable, uh-huh. Kind of funny, in an infuriating douse-your-laptop-in-petrol-and-launch-it-blazing-from-a-catapult kind of way? Absolutely.

Heads will roll after this fiasco, and unfortunately it will be some mid-level Australian Bureau of Statistics nerd who cops the blame.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari dusted off a criminally underused term to really capture the predicament's essence: "It is a shemozzle."

Sucks to be Michael McCormack, who until being named the minister responsible for Census last month was just some faceless backbencher whose name no one knew.

His walk-of-shame media conference the morning after was poetry.

"This was not an attack." Yes it was.

"Nor was it a hack." Pfft.

"Rather it was an attempt to frustrate the collection of Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data." And a spectacularly successful one at that.

"ABS Census security was not compromised. I repeat: not compromised. And no data was lost." Or received.

"At no stage during these incidents last night was any information obtained, nor was there any entry into the system." By the ABS, or people trying to fill out the ruddy form.

Now the government has to work out how to get back the $10 million (paid to IBM to host and manage the Census website) from the 64 people who completed the thing.

And Nick Xenophon, that loathsome, responsibility-shirking cad.

Oh, how I long for a time when we were so paranoid to believe our government had the know-how to actually spy on us.

The official line is that some malicious buggers ran a DDoS attack, basically using a tonne of infected computers to target a single server, accessing it so frequently that it overloaded and the website crashed.

Sounds suspiciously like what might happen if an entire country tried to access a website simultaneously and its servers were a bit crap.

Even if it was a DDoS attack, how did no one see this coming?

It was an embarrassing blow for our tech-savvy champion of all things innovative and agile, and Prime Minister Turnbull will be hunting scalps.

Whether it was Chinese hackers getting revenge for Australian Olympian swimming gold medallist Mack Horton calling their Lance Armstrong of the pool Sun Yang a drug cheat, union flunkies undermining the government, gremlins or just plain old incompetence, one thing is clear.

Australia will not be switching to online voting any time soon. -ARM NEWSDESK



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