news The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has said staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are “angry” at the Turnbull Government following the failure of the Census web service on Census night.
ABS’ “highly qualified and dedicated” staff should not be blamed for “decisions taken by the Turnbull Government that are the real cause” of 9 August’s Census “debacle”, the union said.
“Our members working in the ABS have slugged their guts out for months to make this Census work despite multiple Government decisions that have caused major problems,” said Nadine Flood, CPSU National Secretary. “They know how critical the information collected in the Census is to the nation and they’re absolutely gutted at the damage done to the ABS’s reputation and the Census itself.”
According to Flood, there are 700 fewer staff at the ABS now than when the last Census was conducted five years ago and staff are suffering under “massive workloads” as a result.
“Staff saw these problems coming a mile off,” she said.
She added that “critical” planning time was lost as the Government “foolishly considered axing the Census, chopped and changed ministers three times and dilly-dallied for nearly a year in appointing a new chief statistician”.
Speaking about the issue this week, the Prime Minister said: “[T]here were failures on the part of ABS and its systems provider [IBM]. All of that is subject to review.”
“Which heads roll where and when will be determined once the review is complete,” he added.
Calling Turnbull’s “heads will roll” comment “shameful”, Flood said he had taken “no responsibility for the real cause of this debacle, the decisions made by his Government.”
“It is Governments that are responsible for the reliability of public services and the Turnbull Government cannot dodge responsibility for slashing budgets and jobs,” said the National Secretary.
“Prime Minister Turnbull should be apologising not finger pointing,” she said.
According to Flood, the situation is “just one example” of how cuts to public sector staffing and capacity have gone “too far”.
“Australians are struggling to get through on the Census hotline today, but that’s no less disturbing than the one in three calls to Medicare and Centrelink that go unanswered every day,” Flood said.
“The dedication of ABS staff has ensured the Census has played a critical role in public policy in Australia for more than a century. It remains an important tool and we are urging Australians to participate despite the Government’s failings,” she concluded.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting