Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Australian Government submits Australia's first open government National Action Plan

Over the last four years the Australian Government has engaged in a stop-start process towards becoming a full member of the international Open Government Partnership, which now counts 70 countries in its membership, plus is beginning to explore state-based membership as well.

The Open Government Partnership was founded five years ago by eight countries to foster open government around the world, providing a forum for countries to share their initiatives and make ambitious commitments to open up government, in various ways, to public scrutiny.

While Australia was invited to be a founding member, the then Government never quite got around to joining, and the process since then has been slow and torturous.

However in the last year, with renewed support from Prime Minister Turnbull, a consistent process has seen the goal of having Australia become a full and active member finally achieved (after a brief hiccup due to a national election campaign slowed it down).

I've blogged previously about several of the consultations and steps that have been taken in 2015-16 to progress towards this achievement, and have supported the process in various ways where I could, both formally and informally.

There's been a number of other people instrumental in finally arriving at this point, both significant movers and shakers within Australia's small civil society movement and within the public service and I congratulate all of them for this achievement.

While Australia's National Action Plan won't go far enough for some, and the consultation process was not as structured or inclusive as others would like, actually getting a plan at all has been a huge achievement given Australia has had five Prime Ministers and four governments in the last six years.

Also this is only the first National Action Plan. It lasts for two years and is expected to be renewed after that point.

Now that Australia has started this process, the goal should be for all participants to ensure that each new National Action Plan is more ambitious and inclusive than the last.

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