Feedback has been sought by the Government in the first stage of the preparation of Australia’s first Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.
The Accountability Round Table’s submission to the Australian Government on the Open Government Partnership identifies various shortcomings and means of strengthening the Stage 1 consultative processes.
In particular, the submission identifies the “Public Trust” principle as the central rationale and design principle for transparency measures.
“We submit that there is one fundamental principle that should guide all the
participants in this partnership – those holding public office, those assisting
them and we the people. The principle is the “public office public trust
principle”. This principle has been long forgotten by the community. It is not
and has not been for many years in our consciousness or that of our elected
It is a simple ethical principle based on the proposition that where you entrust
others with power over you and your affairs, they are obliged to exercise those
powers for your benefit not theirs.
Translated to the operation of democratic governments, our public officers
(elected and non-elected) are entrusted with power, and very substantial sums
of our money, to make decisions of enormous significance for the present and
future for we, the people, and our children and grandchildren. The public office
public trust principle requires that when making decisions they must put the
public interest first and in priority to their personal interests and other private
It is equally applicable to the all active participants in Australia’s OPG and
should provide guidance when considering issues, evidence and solutions.
It is also a legal principle – part of our common law.”