OPINION: Census needs major overhaul

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By Jim Scott

Race and religion are no longer the primary providers of leadership, stability and nationhood that they historically have been. success. It was simple, well laid out and easy to complete.

With the world around us changing so fast and to be truly useful, the census needs to be surveying society for what will be most relevant 10 to 20 years from now.

For us locally, planning for the likely dramatically changed structures and key functions of local government, health, education, infrastructure, law and order and such needs quality feedback from the likes of a census.

For us, the movement and trends of people as immigrants and/or tourists through our region is a vital regional planning requirement. Most progressive nations today are rapidly supplementing and upgrading their population skills through immigration and education.

Technology is increasingly transforming most aspects of human existence, to levels unthinkable just 10 years ago.

We need to urgently address the levels of support handed out to the current residential mix. All residents must learn to embrace self-sufficiency and accept that in the near future, welfare availability and pension limits will have to be tightened.

These changes to the national standards and expectations will be set out by our democratically elected governments and an appropriately targeted census input is essential.

The world’s free-market economies have become an eclectic mix of race and religion. Race and religion are no longer the primary providers of leadership, stability and nationhood that they historically have been. They may now, in fact, actually be heading towards irrelevance.

All such groupings in the future must accept that they also must pay taxes and participate democratically in line with the average citizen.

Without fear or earning favour, we all need to generate earnings, we all need to pay our share of taxes and only then will there be benefits to be shared with those truly incapable of looking after themselves.

Tax breaks and special concessions that may have been relevant in the past must be reviewed in light of the rapidly changing societal structures. Nothing should be “free”, because that simply signals that it has no worth. Temporary concessions should only be granted for defined time periods and for well-defined, quite specific outcome expectations.

The free world population is generally living longer, has a shorter work cycle and a longer retirement period expectation. This emerging “new world” needs to be reflected in future censuses.

The census may need to be conducted every one or three years, rather than five years, which is the present cycle. Even something as simple as adequate water for our crops or potable water for human consumption could be threatened by a progressively warming planet, therefore, what is planned?

Timaru resident Jim Scott is a former Air New Zealand chief executive officer and a strategic consultant for small-to-medium enterprises.