News 18th October 2016

Australia’s OGP Plan now scheduled for completion by end of 2016.

by Peter Timmins

 Deputy Secretary of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), Dr Steven Kennedy has written to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Support Unit advising that Australia will submit its national action plan before the end of 2016.

previously published timeline indicated a draft plan would be available for public discussion and comment in late September/early October before government consideration of a final plan to be lodged with the OGP by 1 November.

Dr Kennedy cited as reasons for this further delay the election in July, and the extra time now needed to properly consult on the national action plan within Government and with the Australian public in October and November. Dates for a two week period of public consultation have not yet been released

Minutes of the 19 September meeting of the joint government-civil society Interim Working Group (IWG) established by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in August have been published.
The IWG met again on 7 October, a meeting that included time with Minister Assisting the Prime Minister Angus Taylor.
From material published by PM&C, commitments under consideration for inclusion in the plan include action on:

Whistleblower protection in the corporate sector

Beneficial ownership of corporations
Natural resource transparency.
High-value datasets and data-driven innovation
Public trust issues concerning data sharing
Digital transformation in delivery of government services.
Access laws and practices fit for the 21st century
Information about use of access to information laws across the country
Discoverability and accessibility of government data and information.
Electoral and political finance system
The National integrity Framework
Open Contracting.
Public participation in government decision making
Ongoing partnership arrangements for management of Australia’s Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.
As the minutes of 19 September indicate, civil society participants also proposed a commitment regarding implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Australia’s potential to play a leadership role in OGP related initiatives and activities in the Asia Pacific Region.

The detailed commitments yet to be released will determine whether they can be categorised, to use the terms of the OGP, as concrete, ambitious and potentially transformative.

In the meantime stay tuned for commentary from some of our own experts on the case for reform commitments on some of the topics mentioned, topics that must have a place in an Australian open government plan if it is to further that long proud tradition of open transparent government that the PM embraced last November