Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How important really is open government to Australians?

The United Nations is currently running a very interesting global consultation asking people about the six issues that matter most to them.

Named myWorld2015 (, the consultation has attracted over 2.1 million responses from around the world.

Of these, there have been 14,896 responses from Australia (viewable through the data page) - and it is very interesting to see which issues the Australian respondents have put as the most important to them.

The 'usual suspects' are at the top of the list, a good education, access to clean water and sanitation, protecting forests, rivers and oceans and affordable and nutritious food.

Here's where it gets interesting.

The issue that comes fifth for Australians is "an honest and responsive government".

This issue rises to 2nd when looking at male Australian responses, and falls to 6th position when looking at female.

It is the most important issue for Australians aged over 61, ranked third for Australians aged 41-60, 5th for those aged 16-45 and 6th for those aged 15 and under.

Now I should note there's 16 issues to choose from and the only other issue directly relating to government is "political freedoms".

This ranks much lower - 11th for all Australians.

So what can be drawn from this data?

Australians do feel that "honest and responsive government" is a relatively important issue for them - less important than the environment or education, but more important than better healthcare, protection from discrimination or action on climate change.

Wrapped up in this is the notion that governments act in a truthful and upfront way, that they are accountable, transparent and, to some degree at least, open.

So if any Minister or senior public servant questions the value of open government, point them to MyWorld2015 and the views of nearly 15,000 Australians.

It might help them change their mind.

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