MPs join teams to ‘ob­serve’ postal sur­vey pro­cess­ing

The Australian - - THE NATION - JOE KELLY

Fed­eral MPs have been in­vited by the Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics to ob­serve the pro­cess­ing of postal sur­vey forms, although a fi­nal count will not be­gin un­til after Novem­ber 7.

The ABS yes­ter­day said two com­mit­tees of MPs had been es­tab­lished to nom­i­nate ob­servers, rep­re­sent­ing the Yes and No cam­paigns.

The “ob­ser­va­tion work” will hap­pen be­tween Oc­to­ber 3 and Novem­ber 10. As many as six ob­servers rep­re­sent­ing each com­mit­tee will be al­lowed to do “ob­ser­va­tion work” at any one time. Both com­mit­tees have nom­i­nated more than six ob­servers, so they will have a pool to draw on.

An ABS spokesman said the ob­servers would be “shown the elec­tronic image of ran­dom sam­ples of sur­vey forms that have been cat­e­gorised as Yes, No, or re­sponse un­clear”.

“Ob­servers will be able to in­di­cate if they agree or dis­agree with the re­sponse cap­tured by the ABS,” he said.

“The re­sults of this in­ter­pre­ta­tion will be in­cluded in a state­ment of qual­ity that the ABS will pub­lish on Novem­ber 15.”

The ABS said some ob­servers could pro­vide feed­back to their com­mit­tees on the process.

Vic­to­rian Lib­eral MP and Yes cam­paign sup­porter Tim Wil­son posted on In­sta­gram a photo of his “ob­server pass” for the ABS, cap­tioned: “Ob­serv­ing thou­sands of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sur­vey re­sponses (and ev­ery­thing in be­tween) to en­sure the in­tegrity of the mar­riage law postal sur­vey.”

Asked by The Aus­tralian whether it had been con­tacted by many peo­ple re­quest­ing an­other sur­vey form be­cause they had “changed their mind,” the ABS said it was not a valid rea­son for re­quest­ing a re­place­ment so the information had not been recorded.

The ABS said sur­vey re­sponses would be “data cap­tured” dur­ing the col­lec­tion pe­riod, which it said was a “com­mon process.”

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