ABS responds to 'Pushing the limits of privacy', (The Australian, 10 January 2012, Features/page 5)

In response to Miriam Cosic's article of 10 January 2010 'Pushing the limits of privacy' that suggests the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retain the names and addresses of 5% of Census respondents. This is not correct. All names and addresses are destroyed by the ABS once Census processing is complete. The Census longitudinal study mentioned in the article was developed following a full public consultation, including substantial discussion with the Privacy Commission, and a comprehensive Privacy Impact Assessment.

The article also mentioned the experience of a household with the ABS’s Survey of Income and Housing. The ABS is aware of the imposition its surveys make and we appreciate the substantial support respondents give us in doing our job. The vast majority of people willingly provide the information requested as they appreciate the immense value of the statistics to support a well functioning society. If people have difficulty providing their information, our interviewers are trained to work with them to make the process as simple as possible.

Peter Harper
Deputy Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics