07 December 2009

Declaration of Open Government by Australia

The Australian government is emerging as one of the leaders in the sphere of open government. It has now published a draft report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, entitled "Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0" (hmm, not quite sure about that phraseology). Here's the central recommendation:

A Declaration of Open Government by the Australian Government

Accompanying the Government’s announcement of its policy response to this report, the Australian Government should make a Declaration on Open Government, stating that:

* Public sector information is a national resource and that releasing as much of it on as permissive terms as possible will maximise its economic, social value to Australians and reinforce its contribution to a healthy democracy;

* Using technology to increase collaboration in making policy and providing service will help achieve a more consultative, participatory and transparent government;

* Online engagement by public servants involving robust professional discussion, as part of their duties and/or as private citizens, benefits their agencies, their professional development, those with whom they are engaged and the Australian public. This engagement should be enabled and encouraged;

* The fulfilment of the above at all levels of government is integral to the Government’s objectives including public sector reform, innovation and utilising the national investment in broadband to achieve an informed, connected and democratic community.

What's interesting is that in addition to this strong central declaration in favour of openness, the draft report is peppered throughout with references to "open source"; indeed, the whole thing is permeated by its spirit - which is probably why it is such an inspiring document. Let's hope that other governments are indeed inspired by it, and come out with something similar themselves.

Update: As people in the comments have rightly reminded me, this plan to open up some data is rather negated by the Australian government's moves to censor massively the Internet. Interestingly this schizophrenia mirrors almost exactly that of the UK government.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.


Ben said...

I'm just wondering if you have heard of the government's Internet filtering (censorship) proposal?

Jason said...

Not quite.. the Australian Government is moving towards more extreme unaccountable censorship with every passing day. They're even proposing legislation to give themselves the ability to censor perfectly legal content from the internet by way of a secret blacklist that is not available for scrutiny or review by the people. This is perhaps one of the more extreme assaults on our very few civil liberties.

Flinto said...

The notion of 'open Government' by the Government is farcicle to say the least given that the Rudd government through Senator Conroy, is hell bent on censoring our internet at the ISP level. So will it be open Government accountability only on the information the Government deems acceptable for the populace to see?

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, I've been following the Australian censorship moves, and I should have noted that here, perhaps, to put things in context.

In fact, exactly the same thing is happening in the UK: some opening up of data, with more repressive legislation undoing most of the benefits. Indeed, the article I've just written about this:


applies almost perfectly to Australia too.

Thanks for reminding me about this aspect.

Ed said...

The Australian government are NOT in favour of openness. Their desire to CENSOR the Internet, as well as their attempts to silence critics and stifle debate, shows this.

Anonymous said...

" Using technology to increase collaboration in making policy and providing service will help achieve a more consultative, participatory and transparent government"

Like many of the current Governments blogs, that actively moderate any comments that are contrary to their own?

Rudd completely evading questions in an online chat about internet censorship?

Stephen Conroy's office trying to silence/bully a member of the public criticizing mandatory internet censorship? (Mark Newton)

The amazing contradictions, lies and distortions on mandatory internet censorship?

Nice sounding list but! Shame reality is almost the opposite.

Unknown said...

This government is everything but open, transparent...
Look at Conroy not releasing the report about internet filtering, Rudd is getting another tax grab through Emissions Trading Scheme, not caring for Australia but themselves and their position or job.

Glyn Moody said...

OK, I get the message, people: I promise not to call them leaders in open government any more, OK?

Ard Righ said...

I'd like to think the NZ Government is generally moving in the right direction with the Open Government agenda, not the same direction or pace as other countries like Australia, but with less of the internet filtering issues.

The NZ Government has an internet filter to filter out objectionable content, which while a private blacklist, appears to currently only block sites that have or do contain child exploitation content.

I've yet to see any proof that legitimate political sites are being blocked by the NZ filtering system.

So while maybe not at the forefront of the minds of people following this topic, still worth keeping an eye on developments in NZ.

Glyn Moody said...

@Ard: thanks for that info