Statistics NZ, as it tried to develop a marketing campaign for the 2018 Census (which has been beset by other problems with the findings yet to be released) asked the public to tell it: How would you describe your current level of positivity towards the Government?”
Initially, officials at the Department of Statistics proposed asking about “positivity towards the new Government”. The surveys were undertaken in late 2017 and again in early 2018.
As the “Government Chief Data Steward”, Statistics NZ chief executive Liz MacPherson is meant to offer guidance to other parts of the public service to ensure surveys are free of political bias.
She said the organisation had learnt from its mistake. Although an external review found the intent of the question was reasonable, the wording was inappropriate. “I regret this mistake and have taken steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
This is quite shocking. Of all the agencies, Stats NZ is the one you most need to be seen as totally impartial when surveying people.
And Stats NZ proposed asking people how they feel about the “new” Government which is nakedly partisan.