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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Australia should get with the strength and square the circle on transparency

With British Prime Minister Cameron, UK Foreign Secretary Hague, US Secretary of State Kerry, Indonesian Vice President Boediono and many world leaders siding with, supporting and advocating for transparency and open government at the Open Government Partnership summit in London, a strange silence and disjuncture here as ministers in the Abbott Government maintain silence to allow the facts to speak for themselves. 

The facts suggest a clampdown and drawback as detailed by Bianca Hall in Fairfax Media today. No sign to date of enthusiasm for a journey towards new frontiers.

At the heavy-weight OGP meeting in London, Australia, to assume the chair of the G 20 in December, was represented by the Government's Chief Technology Officer. I hope he managed to make it somewhere close to the top tables. 

I don't know what Mr Sheridan had to say while there but the words 'Open Government Partnership' are yet to pass Abbott government ministerial lips here at home.The public record amounts to an announcement of intention to join by then Attorney General Dreyfus in May, and a supporting statement for civil society and mechanisms such as the OGP issued on our behalf by the White House in September,

Following London, Indonesia is the co-chair with Mexico for the next two years.
Vice President Boedino (who knows a bit about our system and our leaders having attended the University of WA and Monash and had a spell at the ANU in Canberra) told the OGP Summit two things will characterize Indonesia’s approach during this period:
First, we see OGP as an innovative movement that is powered by real actions. It is a platform for sharing experiences to inspire each other to act. We believe that openness is basically about improving governance and enhancing policy effectiveness by more fully accommodating the people’s voice in the decision-making that affects their daily lives, thus creating broader civic ownership of government programs. Second, we hope OGP could also contribute to the success of the global development agenda, particularly the Post-2015 Development Agenda. OGP could provide insights, best practices, and innovations on how to strengthen governance, particularly for developing countries. Additionally, OGP could diseminate experiences on how to take advantage of information technology as an affordable and quick means to improve good governance.
Indonesian media are highlighting the fact that apart from 61 member countries the World Bank Group, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme have pledged support to OGP.

Just why we aren't on the front foot about the opportunities remains a mystery. Unless we really don't believe in this stuff.

I wrote to the Prime Minister about the OGP two weeks ago having previously written to him, Senator Brandis, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull. 

This acknowledgement is the sum total of responses:
Thank you for your message to the Prime Minister..
Below is a copy for your records. Responses prepared to your message will generally be emailed to you. If you have supplied a postal address, a response may be sent to you via Australia
Post. In some cases, your message may be forwarded to other Federal Ministers
for their consideration.

This is an automatically generated email. Please do not reply to this email as this address is not monitored.

Submitted on Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 5:03pm

Title: Mr
First name: Peter
Family name: Timmins
Email address:
Your address: 2004/73 Victoria St, Potts Point, Sydney, NSW, 2011
Subject: Open Government partnership and relations with Indonesia
Congratulations and best wishes. Your meeting with the President of Indonesia
on 30 September offers the opportunity to indicate that your government will
continue on with the announced intention by Labor in May this year that
Australia will join the Open Government Partnership. The OGP was launched by
President Obama in September 2011. Sixty countries have now joined or
announced they intend to join. New Zealand is the latest with Prime Minister
Key today making an announcement to this effect after a meeting with Prime
Minister Cameron in London. The UK and Indonesia are the current co-chairs of
the initiative.  Australia will benefit at home and abroad by identifying
with others who share our interest in transparent and open government,
combating corruption, and harnessing new technologies to increase public
participation in government.

Peter Timmins
Open and Shut

Ah that trust deficit......

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