27 June 2017
Transcript - #2017036, 2017

2016 Census pre-data release interview, ABC Radio

SUBJECTS: 2016 Census data

JOURNALIST:

What are you doing this morning?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Heading to West Wyalong for a small business forum teaching small businesses about the value and benefits of being online, of having a digital presence, but also whilst there the Census is being announced and released in Canberra at Old Parliament House by the ABS Statistician David Kalisch and his team and it’s a good day for the ABS indeed. It’s a good day for the nation because what the Census will reveal will be a very detailed and a very high quality snapshot of Australia as it is today. It’s a long time coming. These Censuses take five years in preparation.

JOURNALIST:

You reminded me that I wanted to ask you, why maybe the cynics among us might wonder why the Minister responsible for the Census was almost as far away from Canberra as you could be, in West Wyalong?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

West Wyalong is an important part of Australia, and I look forward very much to seeing actually what the Census will reveal about West Wyalong and Bland Shire in a more broader scale. It’s important that the Census delves into every remote corner of Australia, every regional area of Australia. And that’s exactly what it does. That’s why the Census is so important, because it actually enables governments of all persuasions and governments at all levels and jurisdictions, indeed businesses, to form opinions about the numbers of Australia as it is today. They make informed decisions about how funding gets distributed for road, for rail, for health, for education, for all the important things that Australians want, need, demand and expect. That’s formed as a result of the Census. The fact that I’m in West Wyalong, which is in a part of my electorate, a very important part of my electorate, indeed one of the great economic drivers of my electorate, I think that’s a good place to be. I’m certainly doing a national press conference over in West Wyalong, shining a light on Bland Shire and all the good things they are doing over there.

JOURNALIST:

The Census was troubled with that data problem that people referred to as ‘Census fail’, but you’re confident that we’ve been able to get an accurate snapshot? Has there been any lingering problem or effect on the data as a result of that Census problem?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well the ABS Statistician David Kalisch told Senate Estimates just last month that the 2016 Census will deliver high quality Census data. Indeed the Independent Assurance Panel has also confirmed that it will be a high quality Census. It’s going to produce all those figures at 10 o’clock that will enable politicians and governments of all jurisdictions and at all levels to make informed decisions about such things as population, housing, income, migration, language, religion, education and all the rest. I’m assured that the data is high quality and I can only go on that.

JOURNALIST:

And just while you’re heading to West Wyalong, you are certainly on the Newell Highway it would be prominent in your mind Nationals MP Katrina Hodgkinson said that the draft report on major flooding into the Newell Highway is a smoking gun in a push to have the corridor flood-proofed. Is it time to have it flood-proofed?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

We’d love to be able to work with the State to ensure that the Newell Highway can stay open as long as possible during times of flood. Certainly there’s a lot of work to be done in that regard and that’s why again, the Census is so important. It will show the populations of those areas including Forbes, West Wyalong and all those areas that use that corridor of commerce. That’s why the Census is so important, why those numbers are so important and I’m assured that the data is high quality. Regional areas need their fair share and that’s what the Census provides, it provides a snapshot as to where the population is, the trends and that’s why I’m very much looking forward to at 10 o’clock today it being announced.