The Australian Government has already taken a range of steps towards improving transparency, integrity and anti‑corruption in recent years, which this National Action Plan will build upon.
Open data and digital transformation of government services are high priorities for the Government and considerable progress has been made in a short space of time.
- The Public Data Policy Statement, released in December 2015, commits Australian Government entities to release non-sensitive data as open by default. Since 2013, the number of discoverable resources on data.gov.au has grown from approximately 500 to over 20,000.
- The Digital Transformation Agency (formerly the Digital Transformation Office) has been established to lead the online transformation of government services, and provide an integrated policy and strategic capability for whole of government ICT, ICT procurement and digital. The Digital Transformation Agency will implement wide scale change in digital capability across government departments, benefiting the public and other users of government services.
There have been several major initiatives to improve accountability and integrity both within and outside of government.
- The Government commissioned an independent review of the parliamentary entitlements system in August 2015, and has given its in-principle support to all of the recommendations of the review.
- The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption reported in December 2015. The Government has introduced legislation to improve the governance and accountability of registered organisations (unions and employer organisations).
Steps have been taken to make government procurement more transparent, and to encourage innovation by making it easier for start-ups and innovative small businesses to sell services to government.
- The National Innovation and Science Agenda committed to establish a new Digital Marketplace for procuring ICT products and services, and seeking innovative solutions to policy and service delivery “challenges” through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative.
- A public ICT dashboard is being developed to improve transparency around Government ICT performance and progress on major new investments.
The Australian Government has also been active (and in many cases a leader) in international anti‑corruption and tax avoidance / transparency efforts.
- Australia is a key member of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, having led the development of the G20 Anti‑Corruption Action Plan and the subsequent 2015-16 Anti‑Corruption Implementation Plan. The G20 High Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency are also a legacy item of Australia’s 2014 G20 presidency.
- Australia was also an active participant in the UK’s international anti-corruption summit in London in May 2016. At the meeting, the Government endorsed the Global Declaration against Corruption and announced a range of new measures, including joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and holding an annual government business roundtable on corruption.
- In December 2015, the Australian Taxation Office published the first annual Report of Entity Tax Information, which included the Australian total income, taxable income and tax paid of large public and private companies operating in Australia.
- The Voluntary Tax Transparency Code, announced as part of the 2016-17 Budget, is a set of principles and minimum standards to guide medium and large businesses on public disclosure of tax information. Adoption of the Code is voluntary, and is designed to encourage greater transparency within the corporate sector.
These new measures build on other actions taken over the last decade to improve access to government information and promote transparency and integrity at the federal level:
- Whistle-blower protections in the public sector were significantly improved by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, which commenced in January 2014.
- Freedom of information laws were reformed in 2010, and included the introduction of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS), which requires Australian Government agencies to publish a broad range of information on their websites.
- The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner was established in 2010 to promote access to government information.
- The Archives Act 1983 was amended in 2010 to reduce the period before which government information and Cabinet documents are released. A Digital Transition Policy and Digital Continuity 2020 Policy have also been established, requiring government information to be created and managed digitally.
- Creative Commons licensing was adopted in 2010 to accommodate access to government information and bring consistency to licensing arrangements.
State, territory and local governments have also undertaken a range of initiatives to promote transparency, integrity and access to information at a sub-national level.