Census day has dawned with a Minister missing in action as the raft of unresolved issues pile up, National’s former Minister of Statistics Scott Simpson says.

“James Shaw is new to Government and he needs to get his priorities right,” Mr Simpson says.

“The Census is the most important public interaction that Statistics NZ carry out.

“It’s unbelievable that in light of the multitude of problems being reported by those grappling with the country’s first online census, he has chosen to be swanning around the Pacific on a junket while his officials at Statistics NZ are left to carry the can.

“There are real concerns around New Zealanders not receiving their code letters, some are struggling with online access and many are reporting a lack of response to queries and calls for help.

“It’s obvious that officials are really struggling to land a credible result for the 2018 Census and, so far, the most interest their Minister has shown was to berate them for not asking more questions about gender and the LGBTQI community.

“It is deeply ironic that the Minister, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister are all overseas this evening, and won’t be counted in this important snapshot of our society,” Mr Simpson says.

National’s disabilities spokesperson Nicky Wagner says reports that Kiwis with disabilities are especially struggling to complete this year’s Census online are extremely disappointing.

“Not only does it exclude them from the opportunity to take part, but it’s likely the results will be skewed because so many people from this sector of society won’t be represented.

“It would be good to see the Minister step up and take a lead on this issue – even at the 11th hour – instead of focussing on his other interests,” Mrs Wagner says.

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