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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An end to Australia's long silence on the Open Government Partnership?

It should be a no-brainer.

Since this unique multilateral government and civil society initiative was launched by President Obama at the UN in September 2011, 58 countries have joined. (One, Russia has just left.)  But Australia is yet to respond to Hillary Clinton's invitation to sign up or reply to UK Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude who raised the issue with us in January this year.

OGP member countries share a commitment to increase the availability of information about governmental activities, to support civic participation in government, to implement the highest standards of professional integrity through ant-corruption and other measures, and to utilise new technologies to disseminate government information and data.

Governments pursue these goals in partnership with civil society internationally and at home through a practical national action plan.

Close friends Indonesia and the UK currently co-chair the OGP. Korea and the Philippines are other members from this region.

In February, Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Carr said he supported in principle Australia joining. Membership had been proposed by Attorney General Roxon last year. Australian Information Commissioner Professor McMillan has said Australian membership is inevitable, only a matter of time.

The opportune time is now.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Global Conference, Beyond Transparency gets underway in Sydney tomorrow.

The OGP and the EITI share interests in transparency and have complimentary goals. EITI requires companies to disclose what they pay and governments to disclose what they receive. Many OGP members including the United States list the EITI as a priority transparency and anti-corruption measure in the national action plan they commit to as a condition of membership.

Australia promotes the EITI through AusAID, and makes a sizeable financial contribution to implementation in developing countries. Domestically, the government is undertaking a pilot project and says it is not yet in a position to commit to EITI legislative obligations.

An announcement at the EITI conference of our intention to join the OGP would forcefully demonstrate more than all our words, our commitment to high standards of transparency and accountability at home and abroad.


  1. Sean Parnell reports "Australia will join the Open Govt Partnership, announces A-G Mark Dreyfus as he considers the Hawke review of FOI laws"

    1. And here's the press release

  2. Thanks Maxious and to the couple of other callers who conveyed this great news