ABS workers voice fears over same-sex marriage postal vote in union survey


Dozens of staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics do not believe the agency will meet the deadline for the same-sex marriage postal vote, according to a union survey.

Workers described the postal vote as a “big rush job” and voiced concerns over the accuracy of the data, according to the Community and Public Sector Union.

The union surveyed 152 of its members who work at the ABS.

“It will be a big rush job,” one anonymous worker reportedly told the union.

“The ABS has shed too many staff in recent times since the census, so I don’t think the agency will be up to the job in such a tight timeframe.”

The statistics agency is gearing up for the postal vote, with the first ballots to be mailed on September 12. The ABS will then deliver a result by November 15.

Have Australian attitudes changed towards same-sex marriage?
Have Australian attitudes changed towards same-sex marriage?

But the majority of the union members surveyed said the ABS was not the appropriate agency to conduct the poll, that the vote would strain the workload of the agency and that it would distract from other ABS work.

There were 65 workers who said it could not be done in the expected timeline, while another 57 said they were “unsure”. The remaining 29 said it could be done in time.

“I think what this survey shows is that lots of ABS staff are concerned about the capacity of the agency to pull of the postal plebiscite in the timeframes available, and at current resourcing level,” the union’s Deputy Secretary Melissa Donnelly told SBS World News.

“Its job really is to get to the truth of a dataset and what it’s being asked to conduct is a voluntary postal poll, which is not its usual work.”

The ABS’s Jonathan Palmer on Wednesday said the union’s survey only represented around five per cent of the bureau’s workforce, Fairfax Media reported.

SBS World News has contacted the ABS for comment. 

Tim Minchin's searing song about the same-sex marriage vote goes viral
Tim Minchin's searing song about the same-sex marriage vote goes viral

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