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Question Time: 2021 Census (11th August 2021)
Ms LIU (Chisholm) (15:08): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing and Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing. Will the minister please update the House on the progress of the 2021 census and how it is fundamental to helping Australia plan for our nation’s future?
Mr SUKKAR (Deakin—Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing and Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing) (15:08): I thank the member for Chisholm for her question and I thank all Australians for making the 2021 census night a huge success. Last night we had 6.4 million surveys provided by Australians, which cover some 16½ million people. We saw no interruptions, we saw no security breaches and we saw a seamless service for the majority of Australians. Our call centres, which were ready and waiting, did not have many customers last night, because the service was so seamless. I was with the ABS last night. I had an opportunity to speak with many of the staff at the ABS and to thank them for their dedication and commitment over a long period of time.
I remind Australians and the House that this is a massive logistical exercise. There are 38,000 temporary jobs around Australia. There are 20,000 field officers, who ensure that the census is completed as seamlessly as it is, and there are 15 million letters sent out over a five-week period. We’ve received, as I said, 6.4 million surveys to date. The remainder will be hard copies that are in the post and with field officers who will be out in remote communities, Indigenous communities, ensuring that they are able to get a census survey from everybody possible. We in Australia aim for a very high completion rate. We aim for a 95 per cent completion rate. That will be the goal. So whilst last night was a huge success, the ABS and its 20,000 field officers—indeed, the 38,000 staff dedicated to this—will be working on it for a number of weeks.
I again record my congratulations and thanks to the ABS, to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, to the Department of Defence and to the Digital Transformation Agency. I think we all saw that all of those agencies came together to make it an easy experience for Australians, a 15- or 20-minute exercise which provides such crucial information not just to the federal government but state government, local governments, community organisations and businesses throughout our country. It is information that will inform decision-making for many years to come.
My final plea to any Australian who has not completed is: you still have time. You can still get online until Thursday and complete it or get a hard copy and get it in the mail. We want to reach that 95 per cent return rate to make sure that the information we have gives us the best possible information to make those decisions.
Please click here for a PDF copy of the Hansard extract for this speech.