Kiwis blissfully unaware of their e-government involvement

New Zealand has taken a major push toward e-government this week; millions took part, and they probably did not realise it.

Wednesday was Census Day, and more than 2 million people, or 35 percent of respondents, are expected to have completed their forms over the internet.

The census website had a capacity of 200,000 submissions an hour, and some problems were reported from the rush — but nothing serious.

With almost 2 million already reported to have completed their forms this way, everything seemingly ran smoothly.

This contrasts with the first census in which there was an online option, in 2006, where just 7 percent of respondents filled in their forms online. A five-fold increase certainly shows much progress.

The rush to online compares with an equivalent 30 percent online rate for Australia and a pitiful 16 percent in England and Wales, all of which last staged censuses in 2011.

In another sphere, hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders also communicated with the government over the internet this week.

Already, 150,000 New Zealanders have registered online as showing interest in buying shares in Mighty River Power, a company that the National-led government is selling shares in. Previous share sales will have seen such communication by letter or phone.

And there will be more to come later this month, with the end of the financial year.

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will also be bracing itself for a rush of online tax returns from those who earn money on top of their typical pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) wage or salary.

Indeed, they will also be joined by a plethora of online tax refund agencies attempting to claw some of these payments back, a service that has only become commonplace over the past few years.

Thus, this month, we will see millions of New Zealanders using online services to connect with the state, blissfully unaware that they are part of a seemingly invisible transformation to e-government.

It augurs well, as governments everywhere seek to put more services online.

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