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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1242


Senator ARCHER(5.18) —I would like to go on from where Senator Jessop has just left off. I too have had representations on this matter. I know of about three people who have been interviewed. I have personally dealt with one of them. She was a businesswoman with a family who was very short of time, but the person collecting the statistics demanded that she fill the form in. She appealed through her local member of parliament, through a Government senator, through me, through the Ombudsman and through the State Government. I wrote to the Treasurer (Mr Keating) and the answer was 'Yes', she could be compelled to do this, and she had to fill in the forms. Ultimately, at considerable trouble, she did complete the documents and she has now finished her part in the survey. When I came to talk to her about it I said initially: 'Has it affected your purchasing pattern?' She said: 'Yes, of course it has. We have not bought anything that we can possibly do without. We are not going to be under complete scrutiny of the things we buy. I have included what we have bought but the things we would have otherwise purchased, such as luxury items or any larger items, anything that we could do without for another week or two, we did without '. I believe that would be a fairly normal reaction from people who object to being pried upon to that extent in their daily lives.

I think it is ridiculous to spend $3.5m, when we say we are short of money, to produce a survey which is going to be as inaccurate as this one is certainly going to be and then have it quoted back to us for the next five years. The Treasurer should be aware, before he starts quoting this back to the country during the short while he will remain Treasurer, that people have not filled in these forms as he might have wished. They have filled them in in a manner that is in keeping with the feeling of persecution that has accompanied them. That attitude would be typical of a considerable number of the people who have filled in the forms. Other members and senator's who have had dealings with people in the public area who have filled in forms report the same reaction. As a result, I believe that the survey and the answers it produces will be highly questionable.

Question resolved in the affirmative.