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No Census anonymity? It is time to be afraid

There has never been a more terrifying time to be an Australian. Sure, there have been darker days, and longer nights, but nothing compares to the insidious and downright sinister moves of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to retain all the personal identifying information of every person resident in Australia from the 2016 Census.

The Government rotates between favoured bogey men. This has played out in many ways throughout history; there was the White Australia policy, the Yellow Peril, and Reds under the Bed.

Unsurprisingly, the latest iteration follows a predictable propaganda trail, with declarations of war against terrorists, war on bikies, and a crackdown on pregnant asylum seekers and their babies trying to blackmail Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

But through it all, while the mainstream media shrieks and sensationalises and propagates mere nothings, while facts and evidence and reality is ignored, while more and more freedom-encroaching laws are enacted, harsher penalties are introduced and more powers are given to enforcement agencies, Australians have slept sound in the knowledge that their personal privacy, the daily workings of their lives, is, for the most part, protected.

As of the date of the 2016 census, this will no longer be the case.

For the first time ever, the ABS will retain the names and addresses in the Census of Population and Housing; all of which will remain linked to deeply personal and comprehensive responses, to ‘provide a richer and dynamic statistical picture of Australia through the combination of Census data with other survey and administrative data.’

What does this mean?

The answer is extremely obvious. The Government, through its various agencies, is building a comprehensive and detailed profile of every single person in Australia.

While the ABS claims to have processes and policies in place to prevent the release of such personal information, the naivety and sheer incredulities of such a claim is astonishing.

Since 2002, there has been at least 51 additional national security laws introduced or proposed, including new crimes, increased and expanded legal, police and intelligence powers, and greater government oversight; including the mandatory two-year retention of metadata.

Since 2007, state and federal governments have ramped up the attack on so-called bikies, and introduced a range of extraordinary, far reaching, draconian laws, the vast majority of which don’t apply just to those committing serious organised crime offences, but impinge seriously on the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of ordinary, law-abiding Australians.

Laws have been passed by state governments to ban protesting, with ludicrous new penalties for people defending their rights and freedoms, and standing up to businesses or government ideology. Penalties are harsher for ordinary Australians standing up for their beliefs, than for a company director prosecuted over a workplace death.

The innocent majority are punished for the sins of the few, with lock out laws introduced, and completely disproportionate penalties for what are largely regulatory offences.

Doctors and other professionals have been threatened with two years jail for exposing and revealing child abuse and torture in Government sanctioned concentration camps. The right to silence, a fundamental protection for the innocent, has been seriously eroded, if not abrogated in part, with legislation across jurisdictions giving greater powers to alleged crime fighting commissions, and New South Wales attempting to abolish the right altogether.

All of these laws, in some way, violate the basic principles of Australia’s legal system. They threaten the basis of democracy.

But what have these legislative developments, as repulsive as they are, got to do with the ABS’s intention to retain the personal identifying information of Australians?


The national trend of tighter secrecy, greater control and abrogation of civil liberties has been fungating in recent years.

Detection, investigation, prosecution and government vilification depend entirely on agencies having access to personal information.





Personal information.

And now the ABS, with a stroke of a pen, has given the government the final piece of the puzzle. The ABS, collectors and harbourers of all things ‘data’, are connecting the dots to create the intricate map the Government so craves.

The ABS said itself in its media release: The Census information will be combined with ‘other survey and administrative data.’

The gross encroachment of rights and freedoms has nothing to do with keeping people ‘safe’ or ‘building a dynamic statistical picture’ of the population.

The Census information will be used for ideological warfare. Maybe not this year. Maybe not in the next. But it will be, because the tools will be there to allow it.

The ABS asserts for now, the personal information of Australians is safe. No doubt in much the same way the Immigration Department assured 10,000 asylum seekers their information was safe before inadvertently publishing it all online, exposing them to immense danger if returned to the countries they fled.

It is no surprise that the ABS, given the grave concerns about data protection and security, is jumping to assure people that the information will not be misused.

But the past is a great predictor of the future. And it’s about time that history was noted.

There was a time that people who obtained citizenship believed they, and their children, could finally call Australia home. There was a time when people could seek asylum on Australia’s shores by boat and not be detained in an island prison camp for years. There was a time when a doctor or teacher was obliged to report child sexual abuse, not be threatened with jail for doing so.

The time now, is a time for fear. With a government already intent on targeting minorities, vilifying people because of their associations, and legislatively suffocating those who stand up for their beliefs, it is completely realistic that at some point, not too far away, the ABS data will be used for an entirely different purpose than the original intent.

Anyone who believes that the Census data, from 2016 and the years to come, won’t be used for sinister purposes is naïve and quite simply deluded.

‘If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide’ is little consolation when you have no way to hide even if you are innocent.


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  1. Klaus

    Australia has become a police state and it is getting worse. I thank you for your article, it spells everything out I have known for some time. Which country has motorbike policy driving down the freeway and looking into driving cars. They come up directly to your driver window and look you in the eye, at 100k/hour. That is reckless and criminal. But the erosion of freedom has been going for some time. When I arrived in Australia, it was a free and easy country. On Christmas 1985, I went to Bondi and people brought down old fridges, sofas etc and celebrated Xmas. Of course, there was a cost to cleaning up afterwards but I thought that was part of the festivities. I need to add that there was no trouble ever, despite alcohol consumption (then allowed)!!! The year (or a couple of years) after, the police decided to cage the people into a section of the beach. They also decided to approach people outside the cage, who were drinking alcohol. Everything escalated and bottles were thrown. The immediate end to what was a nice fun fest. Same process is happening to schoolies. Australia is shutting life down at every turn. An accident happens on a freeway, lets reduce speed from 100 to 80…. Yes, they want our data, they want control. I fear elections may be cancelled soon.

  2. townsvilleblog

    This census I will be becoming a Christian for the first time in 60 years, I’m not sure which one to pick, probably RC is the most likely to pick so I won’t have a mosque built next to me.

  3. Miriam English

    I’m thinking I won’t participate in the census this year.
    I want to advise everybody I know to do the same.

  4. Jack Russell

    Not to mention that data is already being sold to private interests…!

  5. Miriam English

    I guess this will be the first census whose data will be useless. How many members of minority groups will not take part?

  6. Kyran

    The most insidious part of this is that census information is used to plan government spending. When there is a threat of ‘non-secrecy’, the incoming information is skewed toward ‘what do they want me to say’, as opposed to ‘what is my reality’.
    In a previous life, I worked at the ABS, ironically during the 1976 census. This would not have been countenanced then, nor should it be now. This suggestion was posed by the current government a while ago and has met little resistance.
    Back when I first heard it, I had two thoughts.
    A; I would apply for a job with the ABS as a census collector (good coin).
    B; Under no circumstance would I complete the form, even if it meant demographic information may impact government spending.(My rationale there was that ‘they’ (government/politicians) haven’t needed a census for decades. They decide their spending on ‘pork barreling’, not facts.
    I’m not alone (and the article is well worth a read)

    Thank you, Ms Cripps. If ever there was an argument for civil disobedience in Australian history, this is it. Whilst non-compliance may have a cost, compliance has a far greater cost. Take care

  7. aravis1

    It is time for civil disobedience! Don’t be afraid; be angry! If we all disobey, they are powerless. When will Australians get this?

  8. Kim

    The ABS media and communications team have handled this whole thing terribly. The name and address info will be completely separated from the other census info and kept completely offline in order to protect it.
    Only about 10 people in the entire country will be allowed access to it and those people already have access to so much information that if they were going to ever be corrupt, they already would be by now and the extra info would make no difference.

    The name and address info can only be used for research purposes by special request and the only requests considered will be the ones that will be NOT be used in a way that will identify anyone.

    The information the researcher wants will be shown to them under strict conditions, including having a secure ABS staff member present in order to be doubly-sure nothing dodgy is going on.

    The names and addresses are being kept in order that patterns of movement can be traced among society in general, a task which is impossible with anonymous information from a snap-shot Census.

    Being able to trace patterns of movement compared with rents, home affordability, jobs, joblessness, etc, is incredibly useful for research and planning purposes.

    Note: I am a field interviewer/census collector with the ABS. I was very upset about this change because it worries me that people will now refuse to do the Census, which until this point has played a vital role in planning the future. I spoke with friends just yesterday who also work for the ABS and related fields. I’m now not worried about the retention of names, but am annoyed the ABS media and comms people have screwed this up so badly and people now distrust a perfectly secure system. (Really – it’s probably one of the most secure systems in the world, quite apart from the fact that the Census and Statistics Act of 1905 says the ABS can not and WILL NEVER give out people’s individual information)

    Please – stop spreading fear when there is really no need. People need more information and hopefully it will be coming soon. Thanks.

  9. Kizhmet

    I certainly will not be completing the census. Blank form is all they’re getting.

    Thank you for an informed read Ms Cripps

  10. Miriam English

    Kim, the safety mechanisms will be in place… until they aren’t. As soon as some even more authoritarian government than our current one decides it needs to track people more closely then the safety mechanisms won’t be worth the paper they’re written on. This is why people are worried.

    Rules can be changed with the stroke of a pen. We are signatories to the refugee convention. It is illegal for us to throw them into concentration camps. It used to seem impossible that we’d do something so horrible.

    We currently have a government that thrives on division, pitting people against one another and encouraging hate — against gays, aboriginals, non-christians, people who ride motorbikes, immigrants, asylum-seekers, unemployed people, climate scientists. If this is a beginning to something even worse (and it could easily be) then this census really does become dangerous.

    If we had a more civilising government who were inclusive and promoted learning and the uplifting of Australian society then I’d be less worried, but I’d still be concerned.

  11. Kate M

    Kim – thanks for commenting on this. That’ very interesting information.

    You said: “The name and address info will be completely separated from the other census info and kept completely offline in order to protect it.” That does make sense – but if it is kept separately, how will you trace patterns of movement? Surely name alone would be insufficient to track where people are?

  12. Kate M

    Kim – one more question if you are reading replies to your question. You said:

    “The name and address info can only be used for research purposes by special request and the only requests considered will be the ones that will be NOT be used in a way that will identify anyone.”

    Can you suggest a scenario/example of a research request where name and address is used for a reason other than identification – other than perhaps identifying the most popular names?

  13. Kim

    Oh well, thanks, Kizhmet, for helping the Lieberals get rid of one of the most useful planning tools on earth. If the Lieberals win the next election and the Census is a shambles because people don’t care enough to fill it out with something as brain-straining as a fake name and real information, then I guarantee they’ll get rid of it, just like they’re getting rid of the CSIRO, Indigenous communities and the Environment in general, because they’ll claim it’s a waste of money.

    Kiss new public transport routes goodbye, along with pretty much every other sensible decision planners get to make.

  14. Kim

    Kate M – researchers will request general information from certain suburban regions, councils, etc and that particular subset of the files will be lifted from the offline database and matched up with the general census info so that movements from point A to point B can be seen, then the copy of the name and address info will be destroyed. (If I understood the explanation correctly)

  15. Kim

    Kate M – off the top of my head, no, but I am still quite new to all this. Keeping the exact names and addresses is simply so different census info doesn’t get mixed up when research is being conducted.

    ie: So that 65-year old John Smith of Information Ave Malvern’s data doesn’t get confused with 7-year old John Smith of Information Drive Melton’s data.

  16. Keitha Granville

    and people were worried and canned the Australia Card ??
    I can see a raft of people filling in wrong names just to safeguard their ID. And what a quagmire that leads us into.

  17. Miriam English

    Kim, I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of simply giving a fake name… or leaving the name fields blank. Thank you.

    I still don’t understand why names are needed. The movements are already given in existing census forms, if memory serves me. Doesn’t it already ask where you were last year (or X years ago)?

  18. Kim

    Miriam, no worries, and it probably does, but I was told yesterday that even with a 10-digit encryption code, the current system’s ability to match exactly the right person to their census data is only 80-85% accurate.

  19. Miriam English

    But why match anybody to the data if you get all the movement information required?
    It seems unnecessary, more than a bit orwellian, and likely to really wreck the accuracy of the data when lots of people decide not to fill the form in (as I’d intended, until you mentioned that fake names would work).

  20. Kate M

    Thanks for your answers Kim. I confess I’m still struggling to see why an individual’s data would need to be tracked to that individual – even with your helpful responses.
    Don’t get me wrong – I am a big consumer and fan of ABS data. And my level of concern is not just for security, but also because I think the data you guys collect is so valuable, and therefore needs to be as accurate as possible.

    But while my concerns are somewhat lessened by what you have said, they are not allayed because:

    a) If name and address data can still be mapped back to an individual’s responses – and it sounds to me like it can, even given the safeguards of an offline database, then there is the potential for it to be misused in the future. Data breaches these days are all too common and vastly under-reported.
    b) I do think many people will not want their data recorded in a manner which makes it identifiable or tracable back to them, which will have a serious impact on the quality of the data.
    c) I’m unable to see any reason that everyone’s data needs to be traceable. Surely the statistical data would be just as significant if it were sampled with a smaller subset who gave their permission for their data to not be anonymous.

    Would be interested in your thoughts.

  21. Kim

    I’m sure there are loads of reasons why (am happy to look into it for you), else they wouldn’t bother doing it, but the way they’ve gone about it is just horrendous and it breaks my heart that even more people will now reject (and maybe even sabotage) the Census when it’s a instrument that is one of the great differences between us and, say, the developing world, AND the ABS is really the government fact-checker, not its bitch. (As it were). The ABS is who can instantly demonstrate the truth to combat the lies politicians often tell about groups in society that politicians love to hate, like: single mothers, for example.

    Pollie claims single mothers spend all their money on booze and ciggies.

    ABS can show they ACTUALLY spend it on rent and food.

    (Thanks to the ABS Household Expenditure Survey, for example)

  22. CammerayCitizen

    Kim – completely agree!!! And that’s why I, like you, do hope they sort it out. Because the quality of the data is crucial – and if it’s called into question or becomes questionable because of this, you’d want to be very sure there was a good reason for it.

  23. Kim

    Kaye Lee – thank you. That reminds me – people’s names won’t EVER be revealed to anyone as they will be assigned an individual identifier (code number) that is what will be connected with its matching census data for research purposes; no one will ever see our names.

  24. Steve Laing

    A very interesting conversation. I agree that the overall data should be highly useful to any government for planning purposes. The fact that the Liberal’s have very high aversion to facts and the truth in general makes me suspicious of their motives. I agree Kim, that this may be an attempt to undermine the ABS, and thus give them the perfect excuse to kill it. That way they can simply rely on opinions, and don’t have those pesky facts to get in the way. But I too will be tempted to try and make our anonymous. I wouldn’t put it past this mob to find ways to pass the info onto their mates so they could make a quid out of it…

  25. Kate M

    Thanks Kim. Appreciate the information and also agree how critical the ABS’s role is.

    Kaye – thanks for the link, but as you probably saw, they don’t really give any specific details on why they need to keep names and addresses, or why the effectiveness of the data is reduced by not retaining it. They simply say: “There is also an expectation that the ABS should retain and use the information collected for as long as there is a benefit for the community to do so.” – but give no actual detail on what that benefit might be.

    And unfortunately, in this day and age, there is no such thing as absolute data security. If the data exists, it can be breached. The risk might be small – but it’s still there.

  26. John

    If we all used the same pseudonym, ie John Smith, Guy Fawkes, Jane Doe or Rosa Parks, it would make the tracking of individuals even less likely, Correct occupancy and addresses etc would still provide the statistical snapshot.

  27. Kaye Lee

    I thought their reasons fell short too Kate.

    I can see no reason not to fill out the census (which can be done online this time btw) with a fake name. The information, demographic-wise, is important. I cannot see why my name is. They already ask how long I have lived here (I think). Perhaps it is informative to track movements but only by comparing previous to current demographics in an area. I fail to see how individual movement can be informative except about me.

  28. Diane

    I was going to suggest that they might find an awful lot of Michael Mouses living around the country, but how about if we all say our name is Tony Abbott? 🙂

  29. Kaye Lee

    lololol I like it Diane. I’m Tony and my wife’s Tony too. Ant these are my children, Tony and Tony. We also have several guests staying this evening. Meet Tony, and Tony, and Tony.


    wondering if there is an encription or anything on the paper/s or return envelope that would identify the personal writer of the census ? ie no good calling myself ‘dipstick’ if they can find out who i am anyway ?

  31. Diane

    LOL Kaye – well it worked for Spartacus! (or did it…? Going to have to go watch the film again now to check!)

  32. margcal

    If you fill out the form online, can you be traced by your IP address?

  33. ImagiNation

    “Arguing that you don’t care about the Right to Privacy because you have nothing to hide
    is the same as saying you don’t care about Free Speech because you have nothing to say,”
    – E. Snowden

  34. Kaye Lee


    They say “The ABS never has and never will release identifiable data.” Not that that answers your question.

    They also say any “data integration” will follow certain “principles”

    Principle 4 – Public benefit
    Statistical integration should only occur where it provides significant overall benefit to the public.
    Principle 5 – Statistical and research purposes
    Statistical data integration must be used for statistical and research purposes only.
    Principle 6 – Preserving privacy and confidentiality
    Policies and procedures used in data integration must minimise any potential impact on privacy and confidentiality.

    It was a Liberal Treasurer, Billy Snedden, who first mandated the destruction of names and addresses in census forms in 1971 in response to privacy concerns. And Cabinet records show the Fraser government – at the behest of treasurer John Howard – unhesitatingly and immediately rejecting a 1979 proposal by the law reform commission to retain census names and addresses.

  35. ImagiNation

    We begin today in Washington where a damning report on the US housing crash has just been released, and it points the finger squarely at the global investment bank Goldman Sachs, accusing the banking giant of misleading markets and manipulating clients in the lead-up to the meltdown.
    A powerful US Senate committee says Goldman Sachs made huge profits as the US mortgage market began to crash in 2007. The committee has also condemned a culture of greed, conflicts of interest and weak regulation throughout the financial system.

    …and the firm operated as Turnbull & Partners Ltd from then until 1997, when Turnbull moved to become a managing director and later a partner of Goldman Sachs.

    And you actually expect us to trust this un-elected bankster?

  36. Miriam English

    I grew up in the bush. A friend and I used to catch snakes and lizards. I would draw and release them. He would sometimes keep them at home. He had quite a menagerie. He noticed that unless lizards had privacy it didn’t matter what food and other comforts were available they simply tended to die.

    Now, if lowly lizards need privacy to survive I kinda think it’s probably pretty important to humans too. This idea that if you have nothing to hide then you don’t need privacy is wrong.

    Have you noticed, too, how this crap about us not needing privacy is said by people who feel they actually have a very strong right to privacy. It is just that the rest of us don’t have a similar right.

    (ImagiNation, thanks for the Snowden quote. Went straight into my collection.)

  37. Matters Not

    in this day and age, there is no such thing as absolute data security. If the data exists, it can be breached.

    Yes! But let’s not get too carried away here. The concept of ‘privacy’ like the concept of (let’s say) ‘phrenology’ is only of historical interest. The ‘truth’ is, if you ‘live’ in this world of technology (digitally speaking), then you have no ‘privacy’. Please. To suggest otherwise is ‘quaint’.

    Re Miriam English and:

    Now, if lowly lizards need privacy to survive I kinda think it’s probably pretty important to humans too

    Miriam, I suspect it’s not your best ‘generalisation’. (And that’s being so, so kind.) FFS.

  38. Salstarat

    Never, EVER forget that THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE IS FAR GREATER THAN THE PEOPLE IN POWER! If we ALL refuse to participate in this surreptitious, Machiavellian census of 2016 then it will send a CLEAR message to the totalitarian bureaucrats that we, the people of Australia, REFUSE to be bullied, harassed and dictated to by a loathsome government, so corrupt, so deceitful and so depraved that it almost beggars belief! I wonder what our fathers and grandfathers who fought in WWI and WWII would say if they could see what Australia has turned into under the despicable fascist jackboot of the draconian Abbott/Turnbull regime who are doing EVERYTHING in their power to stomp on free speech, shut down debate and justified criticism of their horrific fascist and callously inhumane policies, defund our children’s education, stomp on our democracy and the democratic freedom of choice that all Australians once enjoyed (especially under the Whitlam government)! My God, the nauseating psychopaths in the LNP are without a doubt the most DANGEROUS vermin we have EVER seen at the helm of Australian politics. The current polls show Labor leading by a small margin of 3% (51% against the LNP’s 48%) – that means we have 48% of mind numbing, deluded morons out there that are prepared to hand the leadership over AGAIN to the Antipodean Gestapo (aka the LNP) who are turning this once magnificent nation into a Police State. History has shown that democracy is taken away in little steps but these pack of LIARS, cheats, thieves and sociopaths in the LNP are ripping Australia apart in record time!

  39. ImagiNation

    What was never accepted by phrenologists, however, was that admitting that the activity of a particular faculty could be independent of the size of its organ undermined the most fundamental assumptions of the science- and thereby rendered all of its conclusions inconsistent and meaningless.

  40. Anon E Mouse

    Kim, the last census we never got the opportunity to fill it out, nor did a lot of others like Palm Island (and maybe more remote or small communities.
    The census has become a bit of a farce when smaller council areas are given a hit an miss approach that decimates the stats on their population. Nothing was done to rectify it, and now they want even more info.
    My religion is going to be Jedi Knight, if I get the opportunity to participate.

  41. ImagiNation

    A little like your post.

  42. Matters Not

    ImagiNation at 10:42 pm

    I have absolutely no idea as to the meaning I might, or should, give to your post. Please explain.

    What was never accepted by phrenologists, however, was that admitting that the activity of a particular faculty could be independent of the size of its organ undermined the most fundamental assumptions of the science- and thereby rendered all of its conclusions inconsistent and meaningless.

    I am at a loss.

    I await your response with interest.

  43. Miriam English

    Matters Not, you are being a bit too easily dismissive. Sure, privacy is being whittled away in all directions, but that isn’t a reason not to care about it. That’s exactly why we should care about it. Be careful about thinking in absolutes. Just because we don’t have absolute privacy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want more privacy. You are muddling your thinking here.

    As for telling me I’m over-generalising (FFS), you really need to be a little more careful about your reading. 🙂 I didn’t say that like lizards, humans would die from lack of privacy (as you seem to think I was saying). I said “I kinda think it’s probably pretty important to humans too”. And it is important. Tell me how people manage in prison where they have almost no privacy. Sure, they survive, but it is not a good experience. There is plenty of research to show that lack of privacy increases levels of stress and anxiety, cortisone levels (and with it susceptibility to infectious disease), aggression, depression, paranoia. Losing your privacy is not a pleasant experience.

  44. ImagiNation

    “if you ‘live’ in this world of technology (digitally speaking), then you have no ‘privacy’. Please. To suggest otherwise is ‘quaint’.”
    I agree with what you say therefore the information available needs to be selective. I will not roll over and submit information where I know that information will be used for other purposes, also I consider myself closer to animal (reptile) than politician.

  45. ImagiNation

    “I do not mind being called a ‘conspiracy
    theorist’ if you don’t mind being called
    a coincidence theorist.’”
    – imagiNation

  46. Michael Taylor

    The government might want to know a lot about us, but they don’t want us to know much about them. Over the last week I’ve been busy getting rid of any broken links in our articles or comments. I’m amazed at the amount of links to the LNP page quoting Abbott have now been taken down.

  47. ImagiNation

    Abbott will be re-instated as PM, Turnbull is only there so the TPP is passed unopposed.

  48. Tony Backhouse

    If they want to find out this information they can already troll me on Facebook or Twitter but as a Nazerene I conscientiously object to this and would be forced to not provide accurate information with knowledge the un-sackable Fascist Neoliberal Regime of NSW Premier “Bambi The Boshevic”, Mike Baird were to have access to this information attached to my personal details.

    The word Democracy is Syriac meaning “Citizenship List” those on the list had “Rights” (The Australian Equivalent Australian Word is “Mindarie” meaning “Festival to Invoke Peace”) and the Romans forced Mary and Joseph Cohen to return to their birthplace Bethlehem for their CENSUS to collect taxes but the Press Release states the personal details are to be able to Target Mental Health Facilities so rather than provide services the reason of the census is to “Target” services such as Mental Health therefore by default denude or deny services to others who should ordinarily be able to present at any Public Health facility as still happens in Syria despite Terrorists with Bombs produced with gun-powder produced at Thales ADI in Lithgow, having detonated public health facilities such as the Kindi Hospital in Aleppo in December 2013.

    This will create a situation like in Queensland where under Campbell Newman Alcoholics are forced to take out private health insurance to attend detox unless they can access the only two Public Hospital Detox Facilities in Brisbane and Cairns because going cold turkey off Alcohol can causes Epileptic seizures unless stabilized with anti-convulsive drugs and diazepam which is highly addictive itself

  49. mars08

    I was under the impression that providing false data in the Australian census (or none) would lead to prosecution. Can anyone confirm?

  50. diannaart


    I have been declaring myself a Jedi Knight for years, which is patently false, I am in fact a Pastafarian.

    May you be touched by the great one’s noodly appendage.


    According to my spellcheck ‘pastafarian’ S/B parliamentarian…

  51. Backyard Bob

    I have been declaring myself a Jedi Knight for years, which is patently false[…]

    Clearly. You can’t just declare yourself a Jedi Knight. You must train under a Jedi Master and endure the Jedi Trials to have that rank bestowed upon you. And for census purposes you would declare yourself a member of the Jedi Order, whatever your rank. A true Jedi Knight would know this.

    Art of speaking out of sequence must you also learn.

    I joined the United Jedi and Pastafarian Church, just so I could say: May be the sauce be with you.

  52. diannaart

    You can’t just declare yourself a Jedi Knight

    Jeez ByB

    I only wanted to reassure mars08 – I did not request a lecture.

    Perhaps a larger size colander would help.

    “Lo, though I boat through the Calais of death, I shall fear no weevil.”
    —Debbie Harry

  53. diannaart

    Thus far, no one declaring themselves to be a Jedi Knight has been prosecuted.


  54. Kothos

    If the data exists, if the data can be matched up, then the data can be leaked, stolen or misused by our government. No thanks. Census data in the USA and other countries has already been used to identify individuals who happen to be members of minority groups, refugees or people the government fears are terrorists. Giving a fake name won’t work – if the name is fake, how can it be used to track migratory movements of people? And not filling out the census at all attracts a fine, doesn’t it? Again, no thanks – I’ll be paying the fine..

  55. diannaart

    Found the following guideline for the previous census in 2011:

    Here are examples of approaches that the APF is aware of that such people are adopting in order to avoid their personal data being captured and abused during the 2011 Census:

    Being absent from all households on the night of Tue 9 Aug 2011. (Although it may be cold that night)
    If others in the household are submitting a return, telling them to leave you off it. (This may be a concern to one or more of the other people in the household)
    Getting an envelope and a form, and sending a blank form in. (This will very likely result in successive re-visits from the collector, followed by threatening letters from the ABS. But if enough people were to do it, the volume might be such that the ABS may not be able to follow everyone up)
    Getting an envelope and a form, and filling in nonsense data, at least in response to the questions you object to. (This is not appropriate for people who do not like to be forced to lie in order to protect their privacy)
    If all persons in the household object to providing data, avoiding being at home when the Collector calls. (This will require great persistence, because Collectors and their supervisors are paid to chase, chase, and chase again)
    Asking a series of questions about the security of the data, and saying that you’ll provide the data once you have satisfactory answers. (The ABS is likely to eventually reply with carefully-composed and vague text that does not answer your questions. Ask the questions again. You may need to sustain your patience over many months until one side or the other gives up)
    Refusing to provide the data. (The ABS has the power to prosecute, and to seek fines that the magistrate could choose to apply once, or for every day that the data is not provided)

    The APF neither encourages nor discourages any of these approaches. (And it would be unwise for anyone to actively encourage their use, because that might be interpreted as an incitement to break the law).

    But the APF believes that the information should be widely published, so that people are informed about the situation.

    I am sure more up to date info may be discovered before Census night.

  56. diannaart

    ….and, furthermore, I was one of the (not so) lucky people required to provide follow-up information – not because I had done anything wrong – it was a random selection based on finding out more about employment. This was the year my mother died and my ME illness worsened; as a result I was on a DSP. Nevertheless, once a month for 6 months an ABS officer contacted me to find out whether I had been working. Every month I explained I was still ill.

    No one questioned my religious affiliation.

    I had completely forgotten about what was, very much, an invasion of privacy – as stated in above quoted, ABS officers will come to your home AND they are very persistent.

  57. jimhaz

    Convince me first that the plans of planners, at this level of identity detail, have any real impact on the decisions of modern politicians and I might listen to the ABS’s reasoning.

    Mostly the ABS is just using weasel words.

    [Principle 4 – Public benefit
    Statistical integration should only occur where it provides significant overall benefit to the public]

    The LNP would regard providing information to business as providing significant overall benefit to the public, under the catch all of helping the economy grow.

    I used to answer phone surveys, but a decade or so ago I realised the more info you give business the more they will use that, not for improvement but to price gouge or decrease quality as much has they can, I’ve not done a survey since.

    Some more info is here in this 2005 Victorian Privacy Commissioner submission$FILE/Privacy%20Victoria_1.pdf

  58. Anon E Mouse

    Interesting to hear of census collectors visiting and being persistent when large communities were left out of the last one.
    We didn’t see anyone and had no opportunity to complete the census.

    I did wonder if it was simply a coincidence (as in coincidence theory) or a conspiracy to obliterate rural and/or Indigenous people from the census and therefore funding.

    It will be interesting to see if they fail to show up this time.

  59. Philip Lynch

    I can see why a lot of people are worried about this but I give you this consolation when ever has a government agency ever shown the kind of efficiency it would take to correlate this amount of information I suggest you give them more info than they ask for and the ABS will implode

  60. Aaron Toon

    Retention of census data will only achieve one thing – less accurate information being provided. A lot less people are going to be honest once they have lost their anonymity.

  61. wam

    Eva, great post
    Mars pseudonyms???
    “Mar 24, 2014 – New laws allow you to be anonymous or use a pseudonym when dealing with companies. Australian citizens now have the right to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym when interacting with government agencies.”

    The rest should be as accurate as possible within memory????
    ps being unable to spell i also answer to obi wan?

  62. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Interesting discussion.

  63. Miriam English

    Uh oh. That looks like spam from Sachin… if that’s really their name.

  64. Jacob Hodgman

    If I don’t provide my name, how will they know its me not providing it? This isn’t a census, it’s a challenge to think outside the box – I want to see the ‘Funny Answers To The Census’ memes that result from this. Civil disobedience, hallowed be thy name.

  65. Kaye Lee

    Former National Australia Bank employee Lukas James Kamay was sentenced in 2015 to seven years in jail for using market sensitive Australian Bureau of Statistics data to net $7 million.

  66. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Next step is to get Kamay to explain how he was able to use market sensitive ABS data for his own benefit. Talk to the operatives and learn how to plug the loopholes.

  67. 1984 Was Code for 1948

    Evasion methods. HOW. If the census form is completed online they have your ISP and thus can track right back to you. If you fill out a paper census form, the census collector writes your address on it. If you have not supplied your name, they will return, PLUS you’re liable for fines of $180 per day and $1800 for false/misleading info. So how will failing to provide your name work? And if you’re still living in the same place as when the last census was conducted (and if back then you did comply) OR if you were one of the one million families whose names (unknown to you) WERE retained, then they will still be able to track, prosecute and fine you and you’ll have achieved nothing. If you try to reason with ABS and/or the census collector about not providing your name, you will ‘ draw attention to yourself ‘ and reap ABS ire and sustained targeting. Most people aren’t able to ship off the entire family for a week in order to avoid the census. People SAY they’re not going to comply, but which of them is actually prepared to pay $180 per day, be dragged through courts and pay an $1800 fine plus costs? So everyone’s going to cave? Politicians and political parties are ignoring it and/or claiming to be ignorant of the situation (as I’ve discovered upon questioning them).

    Anyone see widespread anti-census action, even though there’s only 4 months approx. until it’s a done deal?

    New-borns who’re entered on the census will be trackable for LIFE. And tracked/targeted by whom should be of concern to its parents long before it becomes of concern to that adult infant

    They slithered — SLITHERED — the announcement about retention of names through in the days before Christmas

    Where does the alleged ‘opposition’ stand on this issue? Have you heard Labor opposing what is in effect a national identity-card by stealth? I haven’t. Not a peep from the Greens either, so I’ve emailed them requesting they make their position clear in writing.

    The Pirate Party’s had a bit to say on the matter. There are a few minor parties I still have to question. But by and large, it appears all political parties — regardless of their super-genuine-caring-trust-us-BS — are doing and saying nothing to interfere with the smooth passage of the ‘identity-card’ 2016 census. So none of them gets my vote

    So does anyone have an actual workable solution to this (apart from ‘cuteness’ about their religion) ? If they do, I’d like to hear it and be able to pass it along

  68. We've Been Asleep At the Wheel For Too Long

    Who knows about the Brigalow Corporation? Who knows we are now classified as ‘chattel’? Who knows we, our land, etc. have been consigned to overseas as ‘property’ ?

    I’m just finding out. But it’s clear now why they want *everyone’s* name attached to the census. It’s a STOCKTAKE

    Anyone with property, with children, with the intention of bequeathing anything to his or her descendants, etc. would spend their time well by watching the above. Things aren’t the way they were. Shame more of us weren’t aware of it

    Then, up to you to pursue it further in order you can warn your friends and family

  69. Möbius Ecko

    Researched and read quite a bit to refute We’ve Been Asleep At the Wheel For Too Long’s post.

    Complicated to explain but below is a summary from one source:

    * The Land Administration Commission administered the Fitzroy Brigalow Land Development Trust Fund and Agreement.

    * In 1993, the Brigalow Corporation replaced the Land Administration Commission with the Commission’s powers being given
    to the Chief Executive of the Department of Natural Resources and Water.

    * By 2005 all outstanding monies were repaid to the Brigalow Corporation.

    * In 2009 the Land Act 1994 was amended to reflect the closure of the Brigalow Corporation.

    * Community group references to High Court decisions relate to vegetation management penalties and are not related to the
    Brigalow Corporation, despite assertions to the contrary.

    * Assertions that Queensland is owned by the Brigalow Corporation are inaccurate.

    * The common law continues to be part of Queensland law.

    * Private individuals continue to be able to hold land in fee simple.

  70. ImagiNation

    Queensland? I don’t want to go to Queensland, I can’t speak Chinese.

  71. Miriam English

    ImagiNation, apart from being rather racist, it is plain wrong. There are hardly any Chinese in Queensland. Most of those who do live here have lived here since the early gold rush days and have more right to consider this their home than most of the “whites” who are largely recent immigrants. But even the recent Chinese immigrants are some of the loveliest people I have met. My brother’s wife’s family have only been here for two generations. They are more Australian than many “white” Australians. Their mixed blood children are, as is often the case with mixed blood people, stunningly attractive.

    Racism has no place in an enlightened society.

  72. ImagiNation

    Miriam forgive me. Obviously my attempt at humor relating to Abbott’s gigantic selloff of rural Queensland was a failure. No racism intended.

  73. Daniel Rossi

    t’s illegal data mining to be sold to their donors or it’s for their criminal bribing donors.

  74. Pingback: No Census anonymity? It is time to be afraid – The AIM Network via #AusPol – #AusElection

  75. Gobsmacked

    Oh, but they are keeping your information. Those who opted to have their information stored for 100 years before it’s released have everything accumulated, ripe for the picking before then. Are you sure you didn’t tick the box giving them permission? Are you sure that they haven’t “assumed” that you ticked the box, and are keeping your information anyway? You will never know.

    The ABS head has said that they’ve already tagged 1,000,000 people who they are keeping tabs on indefinitely-a longitudinal study. He said they delete the names after keys have been developed linking the ABS has to other data bases. But the key remains attached to your name for when the next census in completed. The ABS said there’s no way to reverse engineer the keys to find the names once the names deleted. BS on that. All you need to find the names is to refer to the records in other data bases the keys have been connected to. But wait, how are they still connecting your name to an unidentifiable key in future censuses? Furthermore, they will now keep your name attached to your information for 4 years and then delete your name and address. Wow, and then when they do that, you’ll be ready for the next census. Meta Data retention for two years has been enhanced by detailed information retention for 4 years! In other words, you might as well be holding a card that contains everything they want to know – wait didn’t they call that Australia Card? That was too obvious and people rejected it but the government just modified their approach and have proceeded by increments.

    Look now, the government and its agencies can track your movements on public transport by opal cards or getting you to pay with your credit or debit card, they track your car with its e-tag. They know what you read on the internet, who you communicate with and can access anything you’ve written and said. They even can follow you on the streets with facial recognition software mounted on the myriad of cameras they have installed all over the country. And as the author of the article wrote now they have something through the ABS which will connect all the dots.

    What else will they think of? In America they are already bugging public transport to listen in on private conversations- no warrants required. How long before that comes here? How long before they start bugging your TV?

    We are living in an Orwellian nightmare. Will the proles ever wake up?

  76. Miriam English

    Bugging your TV? Oh that happened more than a year ago.

    There is also concern that laptops, smartphones, and tablet computers containing cameras facing the user can be insecure. A school was busted watching students in their bedrooms on their school-provided laptops.–claims-lawsuit.html

    Facebook (whose founder infamously said that he didn’t understand why people thought privacy was important) is able to listen in on conversations if the computer has a microphone connected, which all smartphones, tablet computers, and most laptops have. This was ostensibly to allow you to note the music you’re listening to at the bottom of your post without having to laboriously type the name in.

    Any time you play a video on an internet-connected Microsoft Windows computer it “phones home” to tell Microsoft. Solution: avoid programs written by Microsoft. Free, open-source programs are more secure and generally technically superior anyway.

    I use only the Linux Operating System (specifically Puppy Linux), which is free and open-source, and I only use free, open-source programs. Linux has a firewall that makes it vastly more secure than Microsoft Windows’ crappy firewall. I have a smartphone, however I don’t use it as a phone, but as a handheld computer (I don’t have a phone SIM in it) and it doesn’t have a camera facing me anyway. I do have a wonderful $50 (brand new) tablet computer, but keep it disconnected from the net 99% of the time.

  77. heartygeorg

    Has anyone heard of the online option of completing the census using a temporary online identity/email? Has anyone got any links?

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