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Census minister's website goes down

AAP logoAAP 10/08/2016 Belinda Merhab

It's been a rough 24 hours for Australian government websites and now the minister responsible for the census appears to have also fallen victim.

Small Business Minister Michael McCormack's personal website went down on Wednesday afternoon, displaying the message: "Error 500 - internal server error".

A spokesman for Mr McCormack refused to confirm or deny whether the website had been attacked.

"It's down for maintenance," he told AAP.

It comes after a series of cyber attacks on Tuesday night forced the Australian Bureau of Statistics to shut down the census website.

Mr McCormack insists it was an attempt to "frustrate" the collection of census data.

"This was not an attack, nor was it a hack," he told reporters.

It's a position at odds with the prime minister's own cyber security adviser.

"This was definitely an attack, but not a hack," Alastair MacGibbon told ABC radio.

He conceded there were "fundamental failures", describing the attack as an "embarrassing and silly episode".

Meanwhile, the immigration department's online service which allows users to lodge a visa or citizenship application also went down.

The ImmiAccount website on Wednesday afternoon posted the message: "Unplanned System Outage. ImmiAccount is currently unavailable. Technical teams are investigating the issue."

The department said in a statement to AAP there were "IT issues" affecting the call centre, website and emails.

"These issues are in no way linked to those experienced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics."

The ABS has temporarily taken down its census site and launched an investigation after a series of "denial of service" attacks which are believed to have come from overseas.

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