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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Members interest declarations not easy to find
A post here in March commented on the requirement for members of parliament to lodge a declaration of interests, and the wonderfully anachronistic practice in this day and age, of only making the register available for public inspection in Parliament House in Canberra during business hours. (Presumably it's the same in state and territory parliaments). Good to see that is on the job already raising the obvious question why the register isn't online.

From what they have found out so far, no wonder the media, or the good burghers of Canberra who might wander by, occasionally miss a noteworthy disclosure:
"Not only.. is the register only kept in one office in Canberra, and not available online for everyone to see, it is not even available in electronic form.Rather, the Register of Members’ Interests is a set of 7 binders with around 1500 A4 sheets in them, which are continually updated (by hand) throughout the course of the parliamentary term. Supposedly, many of the sheets are handwritten."
Minister for Finance Lindsay Tanner has just written on Open Forum about Web2.0 and the Government's wish "to explore the ways technology can be used to establish more immediate and collaborative relationships between government and citizen." Online publication of the register and other crucial accountability documents attracting dust in parliament and government offices in Canberra would provide a walkup start.

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