EMBATTLED Riverina MP Michael McCormack has scoffed at calls for his resignation after wasting the time of millions of Australians who could not access the census online.
An estimated 16 million people were expected to log on to complete the census on Tuesday night but the website was shut down after being attacked by foreign hackers.
The newly minted minister responsible for the census told The Daily Advertiser he was undergoing a baptism of fire, but disputed suggestions the blame lay solely at his feet.
“It would be ridiculous in the extreme to think someone who’s had carriage of something for a matter of weeks, if not days, to have to stand down for something like this,” Mr McCormack said.
“I never ran away, that’s not my style; I stood there and answered every question as soon as it happened.
“A Labor senator called for my resignation, but that’s just part of the hurly-burly of politics.”
The Lake Albert politician downplayed the magnitude of the blunder, claiming the inconvenience was better than losing or compromising personal information.
“The census has always had a very high turnout rate, 98.2 per cent last time, and I’m hoping it will be that high despite last night’s glitch,” he said.
“The census is such an important process for people in the Riverina, as the raw data is used by local, state and federal governments to direct resources for roads, rail, hospitals and schools.”
Residents have until September 23 to complete the national headcount.
The service outage sparked a social media frenzy, with the hashtag #CensusFail trending globally, despite the popularity of the Olympics.
Wagga Charles Sturt University politics lecturer Troy Whitford said the Australian Bureau of Statistics had been neglected by government, but some criticism was political point-scoring.
“The government has a slim majority of only one seat and there’s a hostile senate; this is going to be an ugly term for the government,” Mr Whitford said.
“The concept of ministerial responsibility is the buck stops with the minister, he’s in charge and cannot shift the blame to a bureaucrat.
“But the opposition will play on that, a lot of calls for resignations are designed to expose government weaknesses.”
The academic with ten years experience in politics and policy development agreed Mr McCormack was undergoing a baptism of fire as a new minister.
“This is the first of many attacks we will see the government sustain and Michael McCormack is unlucky enough to be the first cab off the rank,” he said.
“There’s not a lot of margin of error for this government and it’s one of the many stuff-ups we will see.”