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Access to government information

(This is a new discussion starter, added 14 March 2018.)

From demographic information about Australians, to data about government services, to records that explain public policy decision-making – government holds a wealth of information. This information is a national resource and should be managed for public purposes.

The release of more information, in a format that is more accessible by both people and computers, and with appropriate safeguards, can help people better understand and review how government decisions are made. It can also allow people to use the data government holds in new and creative ways – for example, through the development of new apps.

Australia already has a system for proactively releasing government information and data, and providing access to government-held documents in accordance with relevant laws. How can we improve this system? How can we make access to data easier and make the data itself easier to use?

Further reading

Discussion questions

  •         What effective, relevant, and ambitious ideas related to this theme should the government consider?


To participate, you’ll need to register for an account. You’ll then be able to respond to the questions under each of the proposed themes, leave a general comment or respond to those of other participants, and vote on comments.

We expect your comments to be respectful and relevant. As comments are moderated, they won’t appear until they’ve been approved. If, after submission, you do not receive a notification stating that your comment has been queued for review, your submission has not been successfully transmitted to us. In this case, please email your submission to ogp@pmc.gov.au and we will publish it on your behalf. Comments will close 30 March.

If you wish to make a longer submission, you can email us at ogp@pmc.gov.au. We’ll publish all submissions we receive.

The outputs from this and the face-to-face consultations will be made available to the Open Government Forum. At its meeting in April, the Forum will be asked to assess those ideas with substantial support, and make recommendations to government on prospective themes and commitments. When government releases its draft National Action Plan for public comments in June, it will also provide a response to ideas.


Submissions and comments received via email

PDF icon Peter Timmins164 KB
File Accountability Round Table115.02 KB

Open Government...

The Canberra consultations were held on 14 March and were attended by 11 participants from both civil society and government. A key idea that emerged from discussions relating to access to government information included the review of the Information Publication Scheme with a view to extending its scope.

access to government information

access to government information

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Open Government...

The Perth consultations were held on 16 March and were attended by 9 participants from civil society. Key ideas that emerged from discussions relating to access to government information included:

  • ensuring that government information (including budgets and corporate reporting) is accessible in formats that are usable for all citizens, employing plain language and diagrams where appropriate
  • the desirability of instituting a presumption that government information will actively be made public, rather than only published in responses to requests
  • concerns around government’s use of behavioural insights to manipulate citizen behaviours
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Open Government...

The Melbourne consultations were held on 20 March and were attended by 18 participants from civil society. Key ideas that emerged from discussions relating to access to government information included:

  • increased funding for the public broadcasters


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Open Government...

The Sydney consultations were held on 21 March and were attended by 16 participants from civil society. Key ideas that emerged from discussions relating to access to government information included:

  • enhanced promotion of open government activity not captured as formal Open Government Commitments
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Open Government...

The comments below have been posted on behalf of Dr Ken Coghill:

Links have been provided in this response to stimulate thoughts from participants (particularly civic society) regarding any info. access proposal in particular the suggestion of proactive release of information (including data).

Only NSW and QLD operate under these ‘push models’ for legislation.

Readers may find it more informative to have insight into how proactive release operates (OAIC does not operate under that model).

Accordingly links are attached to provide guidance and practical examples of how the model operates in practice (albeit at a state level). There are many resources on the NSW IPC website. A few follow to assist in consideration of access models.

Proactive release guidance <https://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/authorised-proactive-release-government-information>.

Guidance  on informal or authorised release <https://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/informal-release-information>The operation of these push pathways and compliance with them has been analysed in the Information and Privacy Commissioner's (NSW) reports on the operation of the GIPA Act produced since 2014. Following is a link to the current Report <https://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/file_manager/Information%20Release%20Pathways%20.pdf

Source: Information and Privacy Commission NSW. 

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