Guest post by Sam Pierson
Census demanders will shortly be knocking on your door demanding you respond. Here's one idea for a principled, gentlemanly and appropriate response.
1. Write a letter to the Government Statistician in the next few days that goes something like this:-
Geoff Bascand, Government Statistician
PO Box 2922
I wish to let you know in advance that I will not be filling out the census forms I have received. I
understand that this is against the law.
I will expect to be prosecuted as per the law.
[Name, Address, Sex, Age]
2. When the collector comes, return the blank forms explaining that you have not filled them out, that you have let Mr Bascand know. and that you expect to be prosecuted. Be polite. Be courteous. Be brief.
3. Within a month or so following the census, write to Mr Bascand referring to your original letter, and asking when you can expect prosecution proceedings to commence.
4. If you get a fine in the mail, seek to go to court.
5. In court, make a clear and concise statement explaining why you disagree with the law in principle. Do not try to get out of it. Openly accept that under the law you should be prosecuted for your offence and agree you have broken the law.
6. If you hear nothing at all, go to the Statistics Department office in person & turn yourself in to Mr Bascand.
In all dealings be the model of polite & cheerful. This is important. Don't try to convert or convince anybody over the rightness of your cause. Don't grandstand or seek attention. Other than in court, and even then, be of few words. The line is: 'I did not fill out my census form and I expect the Department to do its job, under law, and prosecute me.'
Within government & popular opinion, the census is seen as a minor imposition for the greater good of gathering the data to make 'better' public policy decisions in a 'modern' nation-state. The aim of this response is to register dignified, civilised disagreement to all that: disagreement to the imposition & disagreement to the idea that the data collected for the state planners is good for us & our fellow countryfolk. (See Doc McGrath's post here for more, and for his alternative response.)
As we also believe in the rule of law, we believe laws that are made should be followed. Hence the request that the department do its lawful job & prosecute.
You'll probably need be prepared to spend $500, maybe some more—hard to tell. We'll have a pub meetup a little while after the census to exchange stories & progress for those interested. This is an individual by individual response, but no one will get left behind.
Do it with low to no expectations, in a breezy spirit.
UPDATE: And in Northland,
Party rebels over 'intrusive' Census
Libertarianz Northland coordinator Helen Hughes will be holding a party on Census day - March 5 - to "responsibly" destroy her form with others opposed to the information gathering exercise.
Ms Hughes admits it's exhorting people to take part in a mass form of civil disobedience, but said many didn't like the intrusive nature of the Census and don't trust the Government.
"Nobody should destroy their [census] forms unless they know what they are protesting against. Yes, it's urging people to break the law, but when the law is wrong then protest is absolutely necessary."