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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

OGP Summit-anyone in the Australian chair?

In a week's time the Open Government Partnership Summit will take place in London. Over 1000 delegates from 60 countries are expected.

UK Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude will host the meeting. Indonesia,"in many respects our most important relationship" according to Prime Minister Abbott is co-chair.

Minister Maude said the priority for the summit is "to set out ambitious transparency commitments for all participants and to embed the organisation as a credible force for making governments more open, accountable and efficient, and societies healthier and more prosperous."

At the G8 earlier this year, British Prime Minster David Cameron pledged that the UK’s leadership of the OGP would “drive a transparency revolution in every corner of the world.” As the host of this year’s Summit, the UK government hopes this remarkable gathering of open government reformers will advance measurable progress in at least five key policy areas: - See more at:

The UK also currently chairs the G8. Linking the two earlier this year, Prime Minister Cameron pledged that the UK’s leadership of the OGP would “drive a transparency revolution in every corner of the world.”

As the OGP host the UK government hopes to advance measurable progress in at least five key policy areas:
Open Data: Radically opening up government data for greater accountability, public service improvement and economic growth
Government Integrity: fighting corruption and strengthening democracy through transparent government
Fiscal Transparency: helping citizens to follow the money
Empowering Citizens: transforming the relationship between citizens and governments
Natural Resource Transparency: ensuring natural resources and extractive revenues are used for public benefit.

Sounds important and worthwhile. But will we be there?

It's not sounding promising despite the fact then Attorney General Dreyfus announced in May this year Australia's intention to join. The opposition was silent at the time. I wrote to Senator Brandis, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull in the pre-election period asking about the Coalition's position but received no reply.

The government has said nothing on home soil since the election. But a statement issued in Washington by the White House on 23 September on behalf of Australia and 20 odd other governments includes a committment to strengthen support for bodies such as the OGP that encourage participation by civil society in initiatives to improve democratic practices.

Over a week ago I phoned the Media unit at the Attorney General's Department asking whether the government would be represented in London. When no-one rang back as promised, I rang again. This time I was asked to email my request and did so on 17 October: Following up a telephone request yesterday as have not received a response: Will the Australian Government be represented at the OGP Summit meetings in London 31 October-1 November? If so by whom? If not is the Government still committed to joining the OGP as announced by the Attorney General in May this year, and as reflected in the statement of support issued on its behalf by the White House on 23 September? Thanks.Peter Timmins Open and Shut

No reply. I emailed again- to no avail.

On the non-government side, as a result of generous assistance from the OGP Support Unit Dr Matthew Landauer, co-founder of the Open Australia Foundation will attend, along with the other co-founder Katherine Szuminska. There may be others.

Some of us taking a close interest in the issue will be meeting with Dr Landauer tomorrow in Sydney.

As to whether anyone will be sitting in the big chair marked 'Australia' no-one is saying.
Update- late word, yes we'll be there.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:30 pm

    Australia will be represented at the #OGP summit by Chief Technology Officer John Sheridan & James Kelly from the High Commission.