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Every second counts for census bubs

AAP logoAAP 7/08/2016

Even babies born a second before midnight will be counted in Tuesday's census.

Some 3000 newborns will join the headcount in the 72 hours leading up to the snapshot of Australia and some will take it right down to the wire.

"We know that there are babies born approximately every one minute and 45 seconds so they're certainly babies born around midnight," 2016 census program head Duncan Young told AAP.

"If your baby is born on August 9, they should be included."

Saskia Friend, who will be 11 days old on census day, will join Australia's other newborns in national figures.

New mum Rosie van Krieken says she and her partner Max Friend, both 28 and from Newtown, are thrilled Saskia will be included in the census.

"The census is to inform social policy very far into the future so it makes me think about her life and what Australia will be like into the future," Ms van Krieken told AAP.

About 24 million people and 10 million households will complete the census.

This includes travellers waiting for red-eye flights, people sleeping rough and residents living more than 2000km off the WA coast on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

And more than two-thirds of Australians are expected to fill it out online, which will save the government $100 million.

Paper forms are still available.

But elderly residents last week jammed the Australian Bureau of Statistics' phone lines over fears they would be fined $180 a day if they didn't receive paper forms and return them on time.

The ABS said fines were a rare and last resort, and that staff would visit households that hadn't returned the census from mid-August until late September.

"There's certainly no reason to panic, no reason for alarm," Mr Young said.

"There's still plenty of time for people to complete it online or on paper even if it's after the night."

But the census also came under fire from privacy groups because of the ABS' new policy of keeping individual data for four years.

"In previous censuses, the destruction of names and addresses after 18 months significantly reduced the amount of statistical value we could add," Mr Young said.

"There is legislation that's been in place for over 100 years that guarantees that the data you provide remain confidential. We've put in place best practice security."

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