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Monday, September 28, 2009

Something's gotta give.

In a comment on a post last week, an anonymous reader who claims to have worked in media relations in the Keating, Howard and Rudd governments said he had never witnessed anything in his professional life like the present government with its "paranoia and centralised control of media management." On Radio National's FutureTense last week in a discussion "Participatory Democracy, Web 2.0 and the Government 2.0 Taskforce," Taskforce Chair Nicholas Gruen said:
"We know what we have to do, and that is to take the situation that we're in now, where government information is secret, unless a decision is made to release it, and basically reverse that, so that government information is in principle, open, accessible, available, unless there's some good reason for that not to be the case. Now the government has in some senses signed on to that principle. It's clearly indicated that it's keen on that principle in appointing us, but it's also been co-author of a set of OECD principles which we reproduced in our Issues paper, which say that. The hard part is actually getting it to happen."
A fair bit of what followed was about the culture change needed in the public service to bring this about, but if Anonymous is right that isn't the half of it. In addition new legislation that requires proactive publication of government information will blur distinctions between media liasion, public affairs and FOI related work, making for interesting times, particularly for those intent on controlling all information flows.

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