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Statistics Minister James Shaw’s failure to show leadership and be out of the country when Census 2018 was falling to bits has meant that next year’s Budget will be developed on 2013 population statistics, National’s Statistics spokesperson Dr Jian Yang says.

“This is the second time Stats NZ has announced the data release is taking longer than expected. Stats NZ delayed publishing statistics from October 2018 to March 2019.

“Stats NZ is now unsure when the data will be released, stating it will not be in a position to confirm this until at least April next year – 13 months after the Census was conducted.

“Census data is central to the funding allocation model used by the Ministry of Health for the 20 District Health Boards (DHB) involving over $10 billion a year. The Ministry intended on using the 2018 census data for the Budget 2019 process.

“But it is now looking more likely that the Ministry of Health will be forced to allocate funding based on 2013 population estimates. With strong population growth occurring since the last Census, this has the potential to adversely affect DHBs as usually reliable statistics are turned into guesswork.

“DHB’s won’t be the only ones affected, the funding formula for the operating grants for our 2500 schools is derived from the census as are decisions about the allocation of resources in social services, police, sports, transport and other services.

“The makeup of the next Parliament due to be elected in 2020 depends on the census data as electorate boundaries are re-drawn. Mr Shaw’s absence is increasingly make it look like electoral boundary changes that are vital to our democracy will have to be rushed through at the last minute.

“This will confuse New Zealanders in 2020 as they will not have much time to confirm their electorate should changes happen.

“The entire handling of the 2018 Census has been abysmal. The Minister needs to step up and take some responsibility and assure New Zealanders that this debacle will not happen again.”

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