The ABS ask that you don’t put glitter in the marriage survey

The deputy head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has told a senate committee that putting glitter in the envelopes of the forthcoming survey on marriage could make people’s forms invalid and cause problems for the organisation’s scanning machines.

Jonathan Palmer said the ABS would be advising people not to place an extraneous material inside envelopes and highlighted that glitter would be particularly troublesome to their equipment.

The ABS said their equipment was “not robust to lots of glitter”. Palmer was unable to say if glitter pens would cause problems but said it would be preferable if people used a dark pen or pencil to complete the forms.

The organisation revealed that they were informed of the plan the marriage equality issue to be determined by a survey on Monday August 7th, the day before the government publicly announced the plan.

To date 40 staff have assigned to the task, and its expected that the team will grow to incorporate several hundred staff.

Palmer said the ABS would be able to report back to the government on the age and gender of responses on an electorate, state and national level.

Palmer told the committee that would be illegal for someone to open another person’s survey form and fill it out, but conceded that they would most likely only know if people informed the ABS that they had not received the form.

The ABS said they would be working hard to ensure the integrity of the survey process. Each survey form will have a unique bar code, to stop survey forms being duplicated.

Palmer also said the ABS would also be providing a paperless option for people who are in remote areas and living overseas. The ABS said there would be sufficient ‘checks and balances’ to ensure the identity of people using the paperless option.

The ABS were unable to clarify if there were any protections against people selling their survey forms to other people. The organisation took the question ‘on notice’ and promised to provide an answer.

The survey forms are expected to be in mailboxes by September 25th.

Graeme Watson

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