The Federal Government has confirmed the 2016 national Census will go ahead as planned and that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will receive an additional $250 million in the budget for an urgent computer upgrade.
The announcement follows reports that the Census was going to be scrapped in its existing form and replaced with a smaller sample survey.
Treasurer Joe Hockey told ABC Radio the additional funding would be allocated to the ABS to undertake the computer upgrade over the next five years. A recent assessment found its computers were highly vulnerable to error, with critical components more than 30 years old.
Government sources said the investment would provide the infrastructure required by the ABS to continue delivering timely and quality economic, environmental, demographic and social statistics for Australia.
Delegates at the 2015 Australian Coastal Councils Conference in March adopted a Communiqué calling on the Australian Government “to retain the National Census in its existing form to ensure Australia’s councils have access to detailed demographic data which is essential for the future planning and resourcing of their communities.”
The ABS said the 2016 Census would be Australia’s first truly digital Census, with more than two-thirds of people tipped to complete the forms online.
The additional Federal Government funding package includes funding for an ABS Centre of Excellence in Victoria, with jobs for up to 250 people, and plans to look for new revenue sources from commercial users of data.