Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Should Australia's political parties have open government and Gov 2.0 policies? (NZ Labour does)

The New Zealand Labour Party have released an Open Government policy, proudly claiming it as first in New Zealand.

The policy focuses on transparency of political offices as the core principle, but also commits the party to producing a comprehensive "Open Government Charter‟, based on a set of principles developed by NZ Labour MPs in consultation with members of the public.

NZ Labour's policy includes provisions for Cabinet papers and other documents to be publicly available once decisions are made without people having to request them through the Official Information Act. Their policy also states that a Labour government would initiate a review of the Standing Orders and look at how to ensure better public input into the legislative process, including through the use of new technologies.
In particular NZ Labour's policy states that,
  • Online engagement by public servants should be enabled and encouraged. Robust professional engagement with the public benefits government agencies, public servants’ own professional development, and the New Zealand public. 
  • Public servants should be able to use social media in their professional role, and the government should provide protection and guidance/advice around how to do so effectively.
And that a Labour government would,
  • Explore ways to expand the use that government makes of the Internet in engaging the public to feed into policy discussion and government direction.
  • Develop a trial of online voting in local government and general elections.
  • Publish the Hansard in a standard, open, parsable, format, so that it can easily be re-used and republished by anybody for any purpose

Interestingly, while there's been Government commitments to open government and Gov 2.0 across Australia, I was unable to locate an explicit Open Government/Gov 2.0 policy on Australian Labor, LiberalGreens or Nationals websites, although to be fair there are scattered mentions of supporting public engagement in governance and of strengthening FOI laws.

I wonder, should Australian political parties have explicit policies for Open Government and Government 2.0 with commitments to the use of online media and support for online engagement by public servants?

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