.id insight newsletter - February 2015
"It's the information economy, stupid!"
There's a lot of passion at .id. If you read our blogs you'll detect passion about the subject, passion to inform, passion to tell a story. But now, our passion has spilled over into outright raw emotion!
Check out Glenn Capuano's blog, "Axe the 2016 Census? You've got to be kidding!" Glenn, passionate? Yes! Emotional? Never, until now. Glenn is forgiven though... here's why.
Australia is a wealthy and successful advanced democracy, an economy in transition, driven largely by growth reliant on immigration, the success of which is based on social cohesion, providing the best quality education and ensuring equal access to opportunity. If we are serious about these objectives then we need to be able measure whether we are achieving them. We need to formulate and implement well-informed policies to achieve them. To do any of this, we need a comprehensive regularly updated and consistent evidence base. This is one of the primary uses of the Census.
If we're going to replace the Census with an alternative way of getting better quality, more frequent and more extensive information, then let's do it. However, there is no satisfactory alternative that I'm aware of, that isn't a compromise to save money. An advanced, rational nation does not drop such an important asset simply to save money on something that pays for itself many times over.
Consider this, in 2013-14 the total federal government budget was $413.8 billion. The annual cost of the Census is $88 million which is 0.002% of the budget. It is reasonable to argue that the Census pays for itself several times over simply by making government expenditure more efficient. This does not take into account the increasing reliance of the private sector on Census data to increase productivity, make investment decisions and generate wealth.
The Australian Census gives Australia a competitive advantage over other nations that haven't developed or maintained such a valuable asset. It is the most profound factual historical record of Australia since European settlement and the foremost information asset that enables us to understand the past and plan for the future.
Finally, to adapt a Bill Clinton campaign line, "it's the information economy, stupid!"