Open Government Partnership Australia
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Australia is now in the early stages of developing its third National Action Plan 2020-22 which is due to the Open Government Partnership by 31 August 2020. We welcome your feedback and ideas on how Australia can become more transparent, accountable and publicly engaged. To get involved you can:

You are also welcome to leave comments on the NAP1 and NAP2 commitment pages if your feedback relates to a current National Action Plan commitment.

Contact

The Open Government Partnership Australia website is run by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. You can email us at ogp@pmc.gov.au.

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Submitted by sreejesh (not verified) on

interesting we dont have such things in india

maestrosofttech.com

Submitted by Ken Coghill (not verified) on

You wrote:

Politicians must be trained to a certain level for the portfolio they have.

Their education credentials must be displayed.

All funding to political parties should stop. It’s not about building a winning football team to bet on. It’s about building a better world.

Consensus rather than conflict needs to be embraced. It is not satisfactory to based argument of mudslinging, personal agenda and the loudest gets the talking stick.

There is no capacity for satellite linking and remote conversation which makes sections of society unrepresented.

Elections should be run from the public purse.

Politicians should be prosecuted for absolute lies. They should not speak on subjects they are not qualified to speak on. They must quote their source and explain their point of view.

Parliament should no longer have adversarial seating. Since a parliamentarian once elected is required to serve all of their community why do they sit with their political colours.

The focus on social and environmental health for the long term is paramount. Arbeit does not “Mach frei” at the moment it is making a small group of people rich.

An independent corruption review body. Not just for crime but for pushing money for its own sake compared to the value it can deliver.

A political body to remove barriers to sustainability.

1. Ridiculous dates in food.
2. It still being ok to deforest other people’s countries for timber like Merbau through lack of regulation.
3. More real discussion across parties.
4. Whilst in office no favours to be given to those who could keep them in office.
5. Proportional representation and a six year term in office.
6. Financing for politicians in the form of a redundancy package if they are not re-elected.
7. Have Hansard made more accessible and the comments of individuals more accessible.
8. Stop knocking policies.
9. Greater powers of the AEC
10. People being able to register on the day if they can prove their Id and home address. I couldn’t vote once because papers took a month.
11. Bipartisan political is a mess. It needs to go.
12. Taking sides with a common collective view makes each side more powerful as people are tribal and have greater force acting with similar minds. The problem with this is when the interest is vested collectively and effectively the individual voices of good people entering politics are lost.
13. The ridiculous rule that dual nationals cannot be in parliament. It should either be, have ever been a dual national or get rid of it and have to be a citizen of this country. By that only aboriginal people should be in this.
14. At the moment aboriginal people are not represented in their way of thinking. Unless they have white fella ways they are excluded. We have a lot to learn from them.
15. It is only in the last few hundred years populations have exploded.
16. The consumerist model driven by both sides of politics is either dead or the planet is. Social values rather than commercial values need to be better represented. One side is got big business and the other side is for big mining deforestation .... they are the same beast.
17. Politicians main focus needs to be re-engineering a better society that includes people like refugees and processing their claims when they can be, quickly and helping their families. We are no better at the moment than at the beginnings of Nazi germany where Jewish people were turned away from American shores to Perish in Auschwitz.
18. A way to better hearts in politics. Hearts and feelings of love and hope have been replaced by a peculiar kind of menacing vitriol. This should not be tolerated.

Submitted by Ken Coghill (not verified) on

(I)n replying to your request for input of ideas about open government(, i)t caused me to reflect more broadly on the state of our democracy and for my own benefit to put down some thoughts.

These are attached. On reflection only some of these seem to be about open government although I find it hard to draw the distinction between that and other elements of democracy.

On reflection I realise, too, that I have little of consequence to offer. Most of the matters about which I see the need reform are well known. These include, the need for a Charter of Human Rights; an anti- corruption commission; controls on political donations; strengthening freedom of the media; ensuring freedom of speech; regulating appointments to tribunals; extending powers of Auditors General; and reining in the almost total lack of accountability of ministerial staff.

Open Government Partnership Australia

What does open government mean to you?

Participation

The most important principle for participation is the free election of a government responsible to the people. Elements critical to this include:

Universal suffrage. Democratic elections are underpinned by laws establishing universal adult suffrage. This we enjoy, subject possibly to the impact upon the ineligibility arising from the increasing rates of imprisonment of indigenous Australians.

One vote one value. The existence and work of the Electoral Commissions as bodies independent of government is critical to underpinning this principle. Their role is setting electoral boundaries stands in stark contrast to the gerrymandering that occurs in the USA.

Ballot papers. The practice of holding ballots to determine the order in which candidates’ names appear on ballot papers is important. Again, this contrast with some of the States of the USA in which the incumbent Governor can determine whose name appears first.

Eligibility to seek election. An election is not free if the opportunity to stand is controlled by others or is unreasonably restricted. Political parties are entitled to control who stands in their name. The restrictions upon independent candidates, such as deposits and the required number of nominees seem reasonable. However, the restrictions imposed by s.44 of the Constitution are not reasonable in a country largely populated by migration and which embraces multi-culturalism. While I recognise the difficulty in achieving Constitutional change, a commitment to include reform of s.44 in the next referendum should be made.

The absence of corruption or undue influence in the voting process. As far as I am aware, we do not experience the making of payments or threats to individual voters, nor the tampering with ballot papers. The importance of having secret ballots is observed in Australia.

Transparency of donations to candidates and political parties. Laws relating to political donations do further protect the integrity of the democratic process. However, they are inadequate and require reform. In Nov 2109 Labor Senator Don Farrell introduced two proposed laws which together would require real-time disclosure of donations to candidates, political parties, associated entities and political campaigners, and require donations of $1,000 or more to be disclosed. Currently disclosure occurs long after the event and is only required of donations of $14,000 or more. In doing so he said: “Donors give big donations to politicians in order to influence their decisions. It’s outrageous that we don’t know when and from where politicians get their money until well after election day. Real-time disclosure of donations would significantly improve transparency of who is paying for politicians’ election campaigns”. I agree.

Truth in advertising in relation to electoral campaigns. To distribute deliberately false information to voters with the intention of influencing their vote is a form of corruption. I acknowledge that establishing the “truth” is not in many instances a straightforward matter. Nor is it clear to me who should be responsible for making the judgement. However, in my view it is important to pursue a solution that has the capacity to operate in a timely manner.

Transparency

Freedom of Information. The expectations that accompanied the introduction of FOI laws have not been realised. Delays in responding to requests and the over-reliance on exemptions adversely affect transparency. It is possible that reforms of the law are not needed as much as changes by governments in their attitudes towards observance of the law. I do not have any answers to this, but see it as an important area for reform.

Appointments to the judiciary. To a large extent Australia has enjoyed the benefits that flow from a vital pillar of a liberal democracy, namely the separation of powers. The introduction of laws limiting judicial review is, however, of concern. The politicisation of senior judicial appointments has not been a significant problem in Australia but the dilution of traditional protections in other areas suggest a benefit in taking some pre-emptive action. A Judicial College vested with power to make decisions on merit would be an appropriate protection from potential abuse.

Appointments to tribunals, however, is another matter entirely. The recent refusal to reappoint skilled, experienced and qualified apolitical members of the AAT and their replacement with persons whose most obvious qualifications appear to be their connections with the Federal Government’s political parties is scandalous. More so because it threatens and weakens the transparency of the review of government decisions. As the former head of tribunals at both state and Commonwealth levels, I experienced firsthand both good and bad behaviour of ministers. For some it seemed that the constraints of legislation and budgets meant that the making of appointments was one of the few areas where they could act unfettered. Reform is required to ensure that appointments are made on merit and removed from the corruption of political favour.

Accountability

The maintenance of the rule of law ensuring that all citizens are treated equally before the law has firm underpinnings. The separation of powers enshrined in the Australian Constitution ensures the Courts’ independence from government. Laws establishing the powers of directors of public prosecutions to initiate prosecutions underpin freedoms from arbitrary arrest and politically motivated prosecutions.

The processes for accountability between the three arms of government are complex. The legislature is subject to accountability by, among others, the Ombudsman and the Auditor General. With increasing delivery of traditional government functions, there is a need to ensure that the Auditor can “follow the money”.

Question Time is one way in which the Executive is held accountable but this has become moribund with a failure/refusal by Ministers to answer questions and the practice of government members asking “Dorothy Dixers”.

The lack of a Corruption Commission at the federal level is a major lacuna in the processes for accountability.

Ministerial staff. The growth in the numbers of staff and their role in undertaking responsibilities traditionally resting with the Public Service has led to a major and, in my view, alarming absence of accountability. This stems from the fact that they cannot be called to answer questions by Parliamentary committees. They have a capacity to provide a shield of plausible deniability for ministers. They are in practice accountable to no-one (with the possible exception of breaches of criminal laws). When staff consisted of little more than a personal secretary and an appointments secretary this was not a concern. This no longer the case. A process by which ministerial staff can be held to account is critical to achieving a more open government.

Whistle-blower protection. Amendments to the Victorian Public Interest Disclosure Act that came into operation at the start of 2020 appear to be beneficial but whether this is the case in practice remains to be seen. Recent actions taken to prosecute whistle-blowers (and a recent court decision) will undoubtedly create a reluctance in others to disclose matters of mal-administration despite it being in the public interest to do so.

Freedom of the media is of utmost importance in the maintenance of a sound liberal democracy and in furthering open government. With the exception of the limited scope of a right to freedom of speech found by the High Court to be implied in the Constitution, there is no assurance of such a right. The inclusion of a right to freedom of speech in a Charter of Human Rights is just one of many reasons why there is a need for a Charter.

Submitted by Ken Coghill (not verified) on

satellite links from parliament to allow people to remotely access is vital. Mothers are almost completely excluded from politics because the hours are too punishing. The opportunity for job sharing political roles and joint tickets to enable team political mum could also be an option. The cost in carbon of all the travel for politicians should be considered and their footprint publicly displayed.

A total amount of cash by sector going to political parties ought to be disclosed for example logging would be a higher percentage for Labor than Liberal, financial groups seems to have slight preferences, big pharma back most major horses to keep them all talking, shooters and fishes have one corporation supporting them.

In this way if all political donations greater than $2 that are tax deductible and receipted are disclosed that is a good thing. What people forget is that our community is matching those donations. I do not feel that these donations should be tax deductible especially as NGO and charity status’s of political NGO or Charity’s have not been issued or rescinded then it follows that political donations to political parties should not be tax deductible. Why should the public purse vicariously be supporting partisan views.
If you set a limit of $2.00 that stops anyone from breaking down the funding and hiding it in complex webs.

Submitted by Ken Coghill (not verified) on

You may have been able to tell from our chat that I am an extremely disaffected voter. The changes I would like to see are virtually unachievable as they would require referenda. Having spent a majority of my voting life in a blue ribbon seat with the same Federal Member (for the whole period) who does not represent a majority of my beliefs and views, is incredibly frustrating. There are many Federal electorates (of both persuasions) in the same boat. An unintended consequence of this is the likely loser of the two major parties in the electorate puts less effort into campaigning, and in many cases nominates a poor or lacklustre candidate. Oh for multi member electorates for the House of Reps (along the lines of, but not the same as the Senate! In addition, the content and quality of the debate in the Federal Parliament is now appalling. Why are there no orators and debaters who can inspire us and challenge our thinking, as there have been in past parliaments (admittedly a few decades ago)? A recent occurrence struck a raw nerve with me. The merger (disappearance to be more correct) of an Arts portfolio into Transport and Infrastructure. No policy debate during the election. No proposal for consideration. Just seeming sheer (***) mindedness of ideology. Arts went from a separate portfolio, to being merged into the AG's Department (wherein funding for the perceived peripheral areas of the arts simply dried up) to last week's announcement. *********** The changes I would like to see are virtually unachievable as they would require referenda. Having spent a majority of my voting life in a blue ribbon seat with the same Federal Member (for the whole period) who does not represent a majority of my beliefs and views, is incredibly frustrating. There are many Federal electorates (of both persuasions) in the same boat. An unintended consequence of this is the likely loser of the two major parties in the electorate puts less effort into campaigning, and in many cases nominates a poor or lacklustre candidate. Oh for multi member electorates for the House of Reps (along the lines of, but not the same as the Senate! In addition, the content and quality of the debate in the Federal Parliament is now appalling. Why are there no orators and debaters who can inspire us and challenge our thinking, as there have been in past parliaments (admittedly a few decades ago)? A recent occurrence struck a raw nerve with me. The merger (disappearance to be more correct) of an Arts portfolio into Transport and Infrastructure. No policy debate during the election. No proposal for consideration. Just seeming sheer (***) mindedness of ideology. Arts went from a separate portfolio, to being merged into the AG's Department (wherein funding for the perceived peripheral areas of the arts simply dried up) to last week's announcement. *** The lack of policies offered for consideration, and negative tone of the political debate on policy at the last Federal election was reprehensible. Obviously I'm not referring to all political parties here (as regards a lack of policies), but (and I acknowledge that much of this list is unachievable) single, or short word slogans should be banned blaming the opposition (or an individual opponent) should be banned a limitation should be put on advertising based on the previous two points once the parliament is pro-rogued, parties should submit a list of their policies relating to all the major issues, and these should be publicly debated over the course of the campaign every sitting MP and Senator who is offering for re-election must make themselves available for public debate on the proposed policies of all parties. Using the PM as the sole campaigner to peddle trite phrases and rely on blame is not acceptable. as per the Victorian system, all Federal terms should be fixed for four years, with a preset election date (subject to safeguards). This would preclude a myriad of Governments hanging onto public funds for two years, and then opening up the purse strings as part of an election campaign without due regard for the economy.

Submitted by Michael Sharp (not verified) on

Information quality and transparency would be drastically improved if the government introduced and enforced a standard data dictionary and ensured all data is stored in a query able structure (pdf files do not meet this criteria) Even better, agree the dictionary stucture with the states.

Publish process maps for all gov interactions, the very act of doing this formally will surface many stupidities and dead ends. Eliminate those and the associated re work costs and over all costs will go down and citizen satisfaction with the government will improve.

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