Man convicted for not filling in Census

By Anna Ferrick -
1 comment
Thomas Martin was shocked to receive a court summons after not filling in his Census.
Thomas Martin was shocked to receive a court summons after not filling in his Census.

A Hastings man summoned to court after failing to fill in the 2013 census has completed the forms and talked his way out of a fine.

Thomas Martin appeared in the Hastings District Court this morning after he received a court summons last month informing him he was facing a charge of failing to supply information.

Outside court Mr Martin told the Hawke's Bay Today he had decided to plead guilty to the charge and fill in the forms after getting legal advice.

But he still disagreed with being forced to fill in the census.

"I feel they get enough information in the first place. I got served over not filling in papers. I just don't get it but (duty solicitor Richard Stone) advised me to do it."

When the case was called Mr Martin told Judge Bridget MacIntosh he didn't think he should be fined as he had already filled in the forms.

Judge Mackintosh initially said she would fine Mr Martin $150 of the maximum $500 fine.

"They need all this information so they can collect it all up and use it as they see fit for allocating funding, that's why you've got to play the game."

Mr Martin told the Judge he didn't think it was right for him to be fined.

"I don't think I should be paying a fine in the first place, I've filled it out."

Judge Mackintosh decided that Mr Martin would instead be convicted and discharged as it was the first time he had appeared before the court.

She told him to go and post the forms before leaving town.

Mr Martin said he was "rapt" to have avoided the fine.

Jo Reilly, a lawyer acting on behalf of Statistics New Zealand, said Mr Martin's partner had already filled in forms for the dwelling. Mr Martin told the Hawke's Bay Today last month that he has never filled in a census.

"I'm definitely defending it. I don't fill the census in on principle, I never have. They get enough information about us anyway from various departments."

He believed the prosecution was a "money grabbing scheme".

"It's a piece of paper, is it worth fining people and taking people to court over? Haven't they got better things to do? Just because I wouldn't put pen to paper, I can't see the sense in it."

Statistics New Zealand Census general manager Sarah Minson said last month prosecuting those who refused to fill in the Census was standard practice.

"After every census we identify a number of cases to take through the prosecution process. There are 100 from the 2013 census that are going through the District Courts at the moment."

According to the Statistics New Zealand website, population information from the census helps determine how billions of dollars of government funding is spent in the community.

It is used to make decisions about services like hospitals, schools, roads, public transport and recreational facilities.

The website states Census information is also used to decide electorate boundaries and by councils, community groups and businesses to plan for the future.

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