#CensusFail And The Shovel Principle: When You’re In A Hole, Stop Digging


At New Matilda, we call it the ‘Shovel Principle’… namely, the relative size of the public cock-up should dictate the length of the press release you issue explaining it.

The name emanates from the thinking that when you’re in a hole, you really should stop digging… ie. the bigger the cock-up, the less you should say about it.

Here’s a media statement we got overnight from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, explaining last night’s #censusfail… and illustrating perfectly the power of the Shovel Principle.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Census websites are unavailable. The service won’t be restored tonight. We will update you in the morning. We apologise for the inconvenience.

There will be no fines for completing the Census after August 9. There’s still plenty of time to complete the Census. Thanks for your patience.

ABS staff will not be available for media interviews.

A further statement will be issued in the morning.”

It’s morning… no sign yet of a fresh media statement. Their website’s not back up either… can’t wait to see their afternoon media release.


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