Amen to that.
These snippets drawn from answers to questions when Senator Faulkner raised the matter with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Carr and departmental officials during DFAT estimates hearings last week, the senator having shone some light on the process earlier in sessions with AG's and PM&C.
It also emerged that not only does the government have an unanswered August 2011 letter from Hillary Clinton inviting us to join, but another dated 16 January 2013 from the United Kingdom's Minister for the Cabinet Office. And the communique issued after the recent Australia-UK Ministerial Meeting in Perth on 18 January includes this reference: 'Australia values the leadership shown by the United Kingdom and others in the establishment of the Open Government Partnership, which Australia is currently considering joining'. (I missed that one.)
The Interdepartmental Committee met most recently in January.
Richard Rowe, First Assistant Secretary, International Organisations and Legal Division, and Senior Legal Adviser tried bravely to explain the process was taking time "because this is a relatively new initiative." More likely it slipped between stools for ages, then minister Brendan O'Connor killed it for some unknown reason prior to President Obama's visit in November 2011, and the OGP cause lacked a forceful champion to keep things going when the Attorney General twigged in May last year, nine months after the matter was officially raised with us by the US Government.
As to why DFAT recently couldn't find anything relevant to consideration of the arguments for and against Australia joining, in response to my FOI application, just another mystery of (FOI) life, I suppose.
I'm looking forward to an OGP announcement soon-and some big thinking about how the government might proceed in partnership with civil society and what a national action plan might encompass.
Hansard extracts below for those interested in the detail.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade