Nasty party attacks Stats NZ

November 9th, 2011 at 4:38 pm by David Farrar

Labour MP doesn’t know the difference between a trend series and a seasonally adjusted series. So what did he do when a data series from showed a positive trend in the trend series? He attacks and accuses them of political bias.

Stats NZ is probably the most neutral agency in the public service after the Auditor-General. Attacking their integrity is very stupid and desperate.

Stuff reports:

Labour’s candidate for the Auckland electorate of Te Atatu yesterday suggested Statistics New Zealand had “massaged” the latest figures on building consents to paint a rosier picture than was correct.

Statistics New Zealand had released building consents for September which found a 17 per cent seasonally-adjusted fall and a 14 per cent fall when apartments were excluded.

“But the headline on the Statistics New Zealand press release read: Trends for new home approvals continue to rise,” Tywford said.

“Talk about spin!”

Statistics New Zealand’s “enthusiasm” could be excused in less partisan times, he said.

“But during an election period when National is patting itself on the back for doing as good a job as anyone could in terms of keeping the economy ticking over, it is impossible not to see a lack of neutrality in the department’s media release.”

Trying to make a 17 per cent decline look like an increase was the “sort of behaviour” expected of Prime Minister John Key or National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce, Twyford said.

“It’s not what you expect of an organisation that has always – until now – prided itself on being fiercely independent of political bias.

“It is inexcusable for Statistics New Zealand to give even the appearance of bias during an election campaign.”

However, Statistics New Zealand chief executive Geoff Bascand said the government agency took seriously its responsibility to explain and present statistics in a meaningful and accurate way.

“As Government Statistician, I am fiercely protective of my statutory independence in the production and release of statistics.”

Volatility in building consents over past months had caused Statistics New Zealand to judge its trend series of figures as the most useful indicator of movement in building activity, he said.

It had also reported the seasonally-adjusted figures within the first paragraph of its statement and more detailed information had been included.

Maybe someone with a stats degree could explain to Twyford what a trend series is.

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30 Responses to “Nasty party attacks Stats NZ”

  1. thedavincimode (6,803 comments) says:

    Direct his attention to Liabore’s polling over the last three or four years. He should get the idea then.

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  2. thedavincimode (6,803 comments) says:

    You were too late Scott. I saw you repeating yourself.

    Run out of material: CHECK :P

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  3. Scott Chris (6,155 comments) says:

    David Farrar says:- “Maybe someone with a stats degree would explain to Twyford what a trend series is.”

    Actually I think Twyford has a good point. The stats were presented in a misleading way, whether it was by accident or on purpose. Whilst they may well have shown an improving trend, the more important implication, ie that consents were still down, was missing from the headline.

    Why use headlines anyway? Let the data speak for itself. Smells of political spin to me as well.

    Personally I find the Stats NZ website infuriatingly clunky and difficult to navigate. Spare me the fucking jazz and just gimme the freakin’ facts already.

    It’s nearly as bad as the Inland Revenue site.

    edit: Grow up Dav.

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    And will the ugly women or the men-without-chests at the PSA say anything…

    Doubt it.

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  5. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Well we’re only just keeping up with the work at the moment. So that must mean that either

    (A) we’re head and shoulders better than all of our competitors, such that absolutely everyone is coming to us, or else
    (B) there’s a fair bit of building work in the planning & design stage at the moment.

    Either way, Phil Twyford appears to be
    (C) wrong, and
    (D) a dick, and
    (E) he should STFU…

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  6. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    I’m pleased that it’s not only the Auditor General who makes bad calls when the calls made don’t favour Labour. It’s also polling companies, stats and Treasury…

    Show me a socialist political party who hasn’t spent enormous money and effort to edit the “truth” in official information and I’ll show you a socialist party in opposition.

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  7. Put it away (2,880 comments) says:

    Twatford.

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  8. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    @ Scott C – The IRD site, for a Government Tax site and in an international context is a bloody good site but I guess since you can’t understand basic stats there isn’t much hope you’d objectively assess either the IRD sites usefulness or the Labour parties idiocy.

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  9. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    I’ve become convinced that Labour is not after the vote of the general electorate – they’re going hard after the votes of those who are absolutely convinced that John Key is Evil (TM).

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  10. reid (16,523 comments) says:

    Liarbore people really do think the MSM is biased against them, just visit RedAlert or The Stranded. If you can get that wrong, why it’s not a big leap at all to apply your hallucination to civil servants, is it.

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  11. Doug (410 comments) says:

    Don’t know why he is so worried; according to Three News Phil will be able to hold his meetings in a Phone booth, the phone is off the hook.

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  12. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Labore now realise they are completely rooted and have headed into kamikaze politics – they don’t care it’s negative and the public will hate them because the public already hate them.

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  13. thedavincimode (6,803 comments) says:

    Ouch!

    Bit snipey there Scott!!

    Just trying to allude to the fact that I’ve come to expect far more from you than cut and paste across threads.

    It is just sooo like judges quoting themselves. One just doesn’t do it old boy.

    And then you went ahead and did it again!!

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  14. thedavincimode (6,803 comments) says:

    expat

    Yes, good point. There is nothing wrong with the IRD site. Knowing what you want to find allows you to use it.

    Doug

    The fuckwit Goff seems to have moved into the Tardis. It doesn’t have a phone, but then he won’t need one because no-one will be calling him.

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  15. Scott Chris (6,155 comments) says:

    expat says:- “since you can’t understand basic stats there isn’t much hope you’d objectively assess either the IRD sites usefulness or the Labour parties idiocy”

    Okay then. Point to the *exact* error in my analysis. As it happens, I have a comprehensive knowledge of statistics and probability, so you’d better know what you’re talking about.

    With regard to the Inland Revenue site, it’s easy enough to understand. It’s just poorly laid out, with a lot of unnecessary steps, and poorly worded explanations, and a number of features that do not work. In other words, clunky.

    BTW, the fact that I’m a National party supporter probably bodes well with regard to my objectivity.

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  16. Scott Chris (6,155 comments) says:

    thedavincimode says:- “cut and paste across threads.”

    What I said this morning was in exact reference to this story. Why would I change much of what I wrote, other than to tailor it to Farrar’s post?

    It also gave me an opportunity to again air my dissatisfaction with the Stats NZ website, which, in attempting to make itself “user friendly”, has turned it into “user angry”. At least for me anyway.

    Others may like convoluted digging as a hobby for all I know.

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  17. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Okay then. Point to the *exact* error in my analysis. As it happens, I have a comprehensive knowledge of statistics and probability, so you’d better know what you’re talking about.

    Sheesh – arrogant much?

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  18. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Another brilliant own goal. I’m sure the once proud Liarbore voters of the stats department are thinking twice about where their votes will be going come polling day. Great work you socialist fools, please keep it up.

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  19. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    I have a comprehensive ability to sniff bullshitting pinko’s.

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  20. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Since Twyford seems to be a stats guru, then maybe he could explain to Trevor what is wrong with this graph:
    http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2011/10/27/graph-of-the-day-9-households/

    If not, he could ask a 3rd former.

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  21. dion (95 comments) says:

    Labour love beating up on public servants, don’t they?

    Erin Leigh’s words say it best: “I’m not a politician or anything”.

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  22. Scott Chris (6,155 comments) says:

    expat avoids the question:- “I have a comprehensive ability to sniff bullshitting pinko’s.”

    Bah.

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  23. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    > Labour love beating up on public servants

    And National love making them redundant.

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  24. thedavincimode (6,803 comments) says:

    “I have a comprehensive knowledge of statistics and probability, so you’d better know what you’re talking about.”

    ooooohhhh … eeerrrr! :D

    Conceited: CHECK
    Aggressive: CHECK

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  25. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Ross 8:01pm

    ” And National love making them redundant “.

    And long may they reign..

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  26. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Fail Scott thinks you work for him expat, better get a jumping though those hoops.

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  27. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Where’s the PSA? Or are they Labour’s bitch?

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  28. mattyroo (1,029 comments) says:

    Scott Chris said:

    It’s nearly as bad as the Inland Revenue site.

    Sometimes Scott, when you have no fucking idea what you are talking about, you should keep your silly gob shut.

    As someone who does business in a number of jurisdictions around the world and has to deal with a number of tax departments and their websites, I know for a fact, that the IRD site is head and shoulders above the rest. And I fucking hate the IRD and what they do to me, so for me to say they do something well is no small thing.

    Spend 15 minutes on the ATO website and come back and tell me the IRD site is shite….

    Muppet.

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  29. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    @ Scott C – you are right about the clunkiness.

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  30. Elaycee (4,393 comments) says:

    “As it happens, I have a comprehensive knowledge of statistics and probability, so you’d better know what you’re talking about.”

    Bwahahahaaaaaaaaaaa…

    Narcissism is alive and well in the Botany electorate…

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