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Monday, December 08, 2008

The tale of two parties committed to change

In response to my comment that we are still in the dark ages regarding transparency of information about MPs travel and the register of members' interests, because while disclosed, they are not up on the web for all to see, a reader drew attention to the latest from the US- an invitation to the American people to take a seat at the table as the Obama team prepares to take charge on 20 January:
"Obama-Biden Transition Project Co-chair John D. Podesta announced that all policy documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be publicly available for review and discussion on This means we're inviting the American public to take a seat at the table and engage in a dialogue about these important issues and ideas -- at the same time members of our team review these documents themselves."
The memorandum to staff is here. A comment from the Huffington Post:
"It is a bold move on Obama's part. Down the road, when his proposals are turned into actual policy, it will be easy to see which groups won out and which ones lost in the process. That transparency could lead to accusations of favoritism and quid-pro-quos as well as hurt feelings among certain industries that felt they were stepped over or ignored. For good-government folks, meanwhile, this is potentially a very big deal. Obama is opening up his governing process to the public, which, for politicians, is hardly convenient. He is encouraging, in a way, a public competition between organizations to see who can produce the sharpest policy takes. And inevitably, he will be challenged to defend his work based on its merits, as observers will get an even keener sense of what kind of policy choices he had at hand."
Obama was elected on a platform for change and a commitment to open and transparent government. So was the Rudd Government. Six weeks before Obama takes office he has started to deliver.The Rudd Government a year after election it is still to make a bold move-introducing a requirement for a register of lobbyists and a bill to abolish conclusive certificates hardly qualify- with no new instructions or guidance to staff that mark the start of the promised new era. And still working on the basis that tabling documents in Parliament about MPs travel and declaration of interests is all that transparency requires. Plus ca change.....

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