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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ALP has a lot to say, quietly, about transparency and open government

It just appears to have chosen not to say much about these issues during the eight week campaign.

Australian Labor Party 100 Positive Policies:

Greater Budget Transparency  

-a bigger more public role for Parliamentary Budget Office.

National Information Policy
Published in December 2015 includes passing now outdated references to Office of Australian Information Commissioner and Open Government Partnership.
Recounts Labor initiatives in government prior to 2013 including Cutler Reportand Gov 2.0 Taskforce that "laid much of the groundwork for Australia’s current data infrastructure (eg" 

In summary:

Pursue a new, national reform agenda - National Information Policy - to be pursued through a cross-sector Independent Data Council.

Establish an Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) modelled on the data platform in operation in New Zealand that combines anonymised information from a range of organisations (eg health, education, crime data) to offer insights to policy makers and researchers.

Identify open data Catalyst projects in strategic priority areas that could be championed by the Independent Data Council for early wins.

Establish a National Centre for Data Analytics which would act as a central source of data-analysis expertise for the federal government, providing expert support to its departments and agencies. The centre would sit within Digital Transformation Office.

(Responses awaited to questions asked/commitments sought by Accountability Roundtable and Transparency International Australia.)

Statements during campaign

“A Shorten Labor government will restore integrity to Australia’s political donation system,” said shadow special minister of state Brendan O’Connor “by lowering the thresholds for disclosure and banning foreign and anonymous donations. 

Privacy: 19/100 points in Australian Privacy Foundation ranking. The Foundation notes
Labor provided a Response, which in a number of respects was positive.
ALP National Platform adopted by the 2014 National Conference

In summary:  
Open Government Partnership
"Labor commits to joining and fully participating in the Open Government Partnership."

Public integrity/Anti-Corruption
Ensure the development and implementation of a national anti-corruption plan; introduce whistleblower protection across the private sector; undertake procurement reform; legislate to require public disclosure of political donations over $1000; seek to limit the level of federal campaign expenditure through the introduction of spending caps; review the existing Commonwealth integrity institutions "to adequately capture a national system that meets international best practice with regard to integrity"

Access to Information- Committed to preserve and strengthen the Office of Australian Information Commissioner; review the operation of Freedom of information and pursue further reforms if necessary. "Labor is committed to the principles of open government. Labor commits to "entrenching open government principles in the culture and practices of the Australian Public Service."

Relevant extracts from the Platform

Chapter 1: Labor’s enduring values…
12. We stand for integrity and transparency in government and honesty in Labor, with no tolerance for corruption.

Chapter 10: Strong democracy and effective government
The contemporary challenge

14. Labor will foster a culture of integrity within Commonwealth public institutions – a culture of openness and honesty, transparency and accountability, with the highest ethical standards and zero-tolerance for corruption. Labor will enhance public confidence in public administration by supporting the Australian National Audit Office, the Australian Public Service Commission, Parliamentary Estimates, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and other integrity measures which create this culture of integrity.

16. Labor will continue to promote transparency and accountability by maintaining and promoting a transparent culture across Australian Government agencies and will continue to support robust mechanisms for Public Interest Disclosure, Freedom of Information and mechanisms for receiving, investigating and prosecuting complaints concerning alleged corruption in public office or administration.

17. Labor is committed to observance of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and will ensure the development and implementation of a national anti- corruption plan.

18. Labor will ensure more effective international engagement on anti-corruption matters including by joining the Open Government Partnership.

19. Labor has established whistleblower protection in the public sector. Labor will introduce whistleblower protection across the private sector.

20. Labor recognises the importance of corruption prevention and education as integrity building measures in addition to corruption investigation, detection and enforcement. In Government Labor will review the existing mechanisms for receiving, investigating and prosecuting complaints concerning alleged corruption in public office or administration to ensure we have the most efficient and effective arrangements in place. Labor will ensure that all bodies that have special powers to inquire, investigate, and make findings in relation to alleged corruption, are required to have regard to the rules of evidence and natural justice.

21. In office Labor established a Code of Conduct for Ministers and their staff. Ministers, staff and all members of Parliament should follow clear standards relating to their behaviour, contact with lobbyists, receipt of any gifts, and disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest which may affect them carrying out their public duty.

33. Labor will:
· Ensure government procurement delivers world-class public services, through fair and open procurement processes free of corruption and discrimination;

· Ensure that a robust objective public interest test occurs in all cases. The test must take into account social and environmental outcomes, including access to and quality of services, impact on regional areas and on local jobs, privacy provisions, risks and consequences, the protection of workers’ wages and conditions, and the cost and benefits to the public; and

· Lead on sustainability and ethical procurement practices, including requiring all companies that tender for Government contracts in the TCF industry hold Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation.

Reforming electoral law

51. Labor is committed to the fair, open and transparent operation of our electoral system and to the essential democratic principle that every person should have the right to full participation in it.

52. Labor will ensure all Australians, and particularly first-time voters, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people in remote locations and young people are not excluded from the electoral system.

53. Labor will improve the integrity of the electoral system and, most urgently, restore transparency, openness and accountability to the funding and disclosure regime.

54. Labor will:
· Encourage public debate about reform of our electoral laws including enrolment and electoral participation;

· Ensure disadvantaged groups are not excluded from the democratic process;

· Introduce a new scheme to regulate political financing, including donations, other revenues, expenditures, and record-keeping;

· Legislate to require public disclosure of political donations over $1000;

· Ensure maximum opportunities for enrolment and involvement in our electoral process;

· Remain committed to constitutional reform to allow simultaneous, fixed four-year terms for the House of Representatives and the Senate;

· Continue to build confidence in the system by effectively investigating and reporting all claims of electoral malpractice;

· Commit to advance the cause of making electoral enrolment and voting as quick, simple and flexible as possible, seeking to maximise the franchise consistent with maintaining the integrity of the system. Labor will further amend electoral legislation to ensure the capacity of Australians to participate in the electoral system is undiminished and extended where possible and appropriate and remove existing laws to disenfranchise Australians due to incarceration or criminal conviction; and

· Seek to limit the level of federal campaign expenditure, through the introduction of spending caps.

55. Labor recognises the important role of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in ensuring the integrity of the electoral system and will provide the Commission with the appropriate funding needed to meet its responsibilities, including the highly desirable goal of a single national electoral roll capable of serving the needs of states and territories but funded and maintained by the AEC.

56. Labor acknowledges that independent corruption commissions such as the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) have exposed corruption and ethical lapses in numerous State jurisdictions.

57. Commonwealth integrity agencies include:

· the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity;

· the Australian National Audit Office;

· the Inspector-General of Intelligence Security;

· the Public Accounts and Audit Committee;

· Senate Estimates Committees;

· the Australian Public Service Commission; and

· the Australian Crime Commission.

58. Labor commits to reviewing the existing Commonwealth institutions to adequately capture a national system that meets.

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