Government statistician calls out Labour's Grant Robertson for 'political interference' accusations
The Government statistician has slammed Labour's Grant Robertson for suggesting there was "political interference" in the production of official statistics.
In a media release Robertson, Labour's finance spokesman, said National was "actively massaging official unemployment statistics" by changing the measure for joblessness to exclude those using websites, such as Seek or TradeMe.
Robertson was referring to the Household Labour Force Survey, due to be released on Wednesday, which he says would "almost certainly show a decrease in unemployment" as a result of the Government "manipulating official data to suit its own needs".
Government statistician Liz MacPherson responded with her own media release disputing Robertson's accusations, saying she was "fiercely protective of the statutory independence of the role of the Government statistician".
She "strongly refuted" the suggestion there was political interference in the production of the statistics.
"This independence means that I maintain the right to make changes necessary to ensure the relevance and quality of our official statistics.
Changes to the Household Labour Force Survey have been made to ensure that we produce the best possible measure of the current state of the labour market and to maintain consistency with international best practice," she said.
"It is not uncommon for revisions to be made to official statistics as a result of more accurate information becoming available or changes to international standards and frameworks."
There was an obligation for "objective official statistics" to be released, which would continue to be done at all times, MacPherson said.
"Far from ignoring technological change during the past 30 years, such as the advent of the internet, we are incorporating these changes so as to be technology neutral.
"Within the survey questions, to be regarded as actively looking for a job you must do more than simply look at job advertisements, whether it is online or in a newspaper," she said.