Declaration of Open Government

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The central recommendation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s report was that the Australian Government makes a declaration of open government. As the Minister responsible for that Taskforce, I am proud to make that Declaration today on behalf of the Australian Government.

Declaration of Open Government

The Australian Government now declares that, in order to promote greater participation in Australia’s democracy, it is committed to open government based on a culture of engagement, built on better access to and use of government held information, and sustained by the innovative use of technology.

Citizen collaboration in policy and service delivery design will enhance the processes of government and improve the outcomes sought. Collaboration with citizens is to be enabled and encouraged. Agencies are to reduce barriers to online engagement, undertake social networking, crowd sourcing and online collaboration projects and support online engagement by employees, in accordance with the Australian Public Service Commission Guidelines.

The possibilities for open government depend on the innovative use of new internet-based technologies. Agencies are to develop policies that support employee-initiated, innovative Government 2.0-based proposals.

The Australian Government’s support for openness and transparency in Government has three key principles:

  • Informing: strengthening citizen’s rights of access to information, establishing a pro-disclosure culture across Australian Government agencies including through online innovation, and making government information more accessible and usable;
  • Engaging: collaborating with citizens on policy and service delivery to enhance the processes of government and improve the outcomes sought; and
  • Participating: making government more consultative and participative.
Supporting Initiatives

The Australian Government’s commitment to action on each of these principles is demonstrated by:

  • the passage of legislation reforming the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and establishing the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner;
  • the Government’s announcement on 3 May 2010 of its response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0;  and
  • Its response to the Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration report, in which the Government agreed that creating more open government is a key reform for the Australian Public Service.

Effective collaboration between citizens and government requires timely sharing of the information held by Government. The Government’s FOI Reforms create the new statutory Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and establish a comprehensive Information Publication Scheme that requires agencies to publish a wide range of information.

The Australian Government has commenced the program of initiatives outlined in its response to the Taskforce’s report in accordance with the agreed implementation timetable.

The Department of Finance and Deregulation will report annually on implementation progress of the recommendations of the Government 2.0 Taskforce to the Government through the Secretaries’ Information and Communications Technology Governance Board.

The Gillard Government is committed to creating a culture of public sector openness, transparency and engagement. This Declaration is a demonstration of that commitment.

The Declaration underpins a range of Government initiatives already under way. The establishment of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Government’s broader freedom of information reforms aim to restore trust and integrity in government and drive agencies to proactively release information to the public. The Declaration also reflects one of the key reforms of Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration, which called for more open government.

The Declaration encourages and affirms among Australian Government agencies a culture of openness built on the key principles of informing, engaging and participating with the public. And it acknowledges that the internet holds a crucial role in realising a more open and transparent form of government in this country.

The Declaration is about making more government information available to the public online, and encouraging reuse of that information in new, valuable and potentially unexpected ways. It is about giving Australians more of a say in forming the policy and delivering the services that have an influence on their lives. It is about enabling government agencies and individual public servants to be more innovative and more responsive to input and feedback, while still maintaining the high ethical and professional standards we expect.

I believe that the Declaration lays an important foundation in implementing our Government 2.0 agenda.  In the spirit of that agenda I urge you to read the Declaration and welcome your ongoing feedback as the Gillard Government implements a culture of openness and works towards a more participatory form of government.

Lindsay Tanner
Minister for Finance and Deregulation

Comments (37)

This is a great thing to see! Lindsay, thanks for all of your work on this over the years. It is good to see it culminating before you retire from office.

I have an aside question: why is there such a focus on the "cult of personality"? I refer to the "Gillard Government". Why is it always the "Howard", "Rudd" or "Gillard" government, rather than just "the Government"?

We didn't elect any of them as leaders, their parties did that. We elected the party to power, based on their policies, not the individual. If anything specific is required, the reference should be "the Labor government" or "the Liberal government" or "the Greens government" or whatever the party name of the day happens to be. Thoughts?

HOORAY!!! Congratulations to all you worked so hard to make this happen. Let's hope Govt. departments start walking the talk.

How can the "Gillard government" declare Open Government as a commitment when the same government is playing hardball on a mandatory secret censorship system?

You can't have both. You are either open and treating Australian adults as adults in the modern world or you are censoring and treating Australian adults as though they are children.

Which is it?

I could also mention the 2007 election promise regarding Freedom of Information Reform. What happened to that?

Congratulations from Canada, most specifically The City of Edmonton. We applaud the leadership you have provided Senator Lundy ( and team ) to Australia and to the world.

We all live in a new world where open is the economy and the new ecosystem. Many may criticize this because they are nor sure what it is, many will praise you because they know what this can be.

Continue to drive towards what you know needs to be done !

Well done

Chris Moore

Great work everyone! This is a fantastic step for Open Government in Australia, and I look forward to helping how I can to further put the principles in action!

It's important to celebrate success, and this is wonderful news :)

We'll be looking at some form of follow up consultation after the election, if anyone is interested in putting forward ideas:

Office of Senator Kate Lundy

I think it's a great step in the right direction but at the moment it seems like an ultimately hallow promise.

Open Government is a great goal, but supporting one of the most deceiving and secretive Ministers (that would be Senator Conroy) in his pursuit for secret Government controlled Internet Censorship under the guide of child protection makes the declaration laughable, sadly.

Take the time to ask him for a valid reason why the unreleased pages of the ISP Filtering Trial report by Enex were denied the FOI request, or why he is using lab test results from Telstra’s internal filtering trial to justify nationally implemented filtering technology. These are valid questions which have yet to be openly answered.

And those are but 2 of a very long list of his actions that not even he would be able to spin into being aligned with the Open Government declaration.

Being Open means listening to all the people, not just the people who agree with your idea or policy.

Great news!
Congratulations government. I trust that your openness will be rewarded.
And thank you taskforce - especially those of you who came from overseas to share your learnings.
One step closer to more deliberative democratic processes in Australia. Well done.

This article is a joke, right? Labor has no interest at all in having an "open" government.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd like Labor to be open about your precious internet filter, ACTA, NBN discussions, the constant piling on of matters into the "Refused Classification" category, Gillard's discussions with Rudd about usurping his role, and all the back-room deals you lot strike with your own personal stakeholders. Remind me again how open you lot were when Conroy gave the TV stations a quarter of a BILLION dollars with absolutely zero *official* strings attached.

Not that Liberals are any better, but at least they're not claiming to be supporting "openness and transparency".

Well, I see the cynics have already piled on. Folks, this is pretty straightforward. It's great news. The road to here has been long and difficult and many people involved have worked hard to get us here. Let me record a few for the record.

Mr Tanner, a longtime champion of reform in govt and the digital effort. Sad to see him go.

Kate Lundy (et al) - what would we have done without her. May she reign long and may she please be the minister for digital after the election, pretty please

Gov 2.0 TF - what a great thing they achieved. We would not be here without them. The gov 2 process will go down in history as a major turning point

The gov 2 community - the folks that worked alongside the TF. I have to mention people like Craig Thomler. It would be remiss not to

AGIMO - After some pretty strange past, AGIMO have stepped up to the plate and become great thought leaders. We must acknowledge Peter Alexender, he has done great work against all odds.

I think that covers most players. They all should be congratulated.

I think that the government, after the election, needs to think hard about funding the digital effort. We need to make sure there is cash to back up the declaration. It must be clearly marked "for digital".

And now for the stick! We need to have some pain for agencies that don't get it. I know that sounds harsh but we must face the facts of life. Some agencies will try to ignore this.

Finally, we need a focusssed leadership here. What about a stat authority (under Kate, of course) that is charged with all things digital. It can sit in the comms portofolion but have its own agenda (and Mininster - have I mentioned that Kate would be great:). I believe that Mia G or Peter A could run that, they would do a great job.

I will leave it at that but sign off with some words from a great Australian

I'M EXCITED !!! :)

Congrats from the Netherlands as well. Great step forward. Something to look upon with envy from this part of the world.

Talk talk talk talk talk....


Can you please tell me who is actually running government then? We all know it can’t be the PM!

Sadly in Australia transparent government seems to mean to the government - data retention and censorship of our internet usage ,secret black lists and secret inquiries .I believe the first step to a transparent government would be to start trusting the people that voted for them, some honesty and guts to stand up for whats right ,not what is politically correct wouldnt go astray either.
I can wish

..that the Australian Government makes a declaration of open government...

Politicians can 'declare' whatever the hell they like.
Its only until they actually physically *DO* create an open government that the public rightfully has to see this as just more empty words coming out of politicians mouths, and give them the lack of respect they deserve.
Frankly it makes me angry that politicians even have the balls to announce such shit.

informing people: your communications will be censored by a secret government blacklist and all your internet activity will be monitored and recorded, you have been informed!

engaging people: accuse anyone opposing that idea of opting in to child porn

consulting people: ignore every opinion, poll, sentiment, logic, argument, discussion, debate, suggestion, demand, or any evidence that is not accord with your governments proposal to censor its citizens communications and monitor and record their online activity.

Really, how do you expect to be taken seriously spouting nonsense like 'open and transparent government' while in practice being repressive and authoritarian.

Unfortunately I see comments here from people from other countries who dont actually realise how very much opposite this Labour Government is to Transparent. If you live here in Australia you would realise that this Government has been trying to develop a system of Censorship unsurpassed in our Nations History. I have been a staunch and loyal Labour supporter and voter for 26 years, and this Government will never recieve my vote or my families vote, not after Senator Conroys disgusting efforts to implement his useless, wasteful, insulting Filter.

Remember , I am a labour supporter ( or was) and this is my opinion of this Labour Government! There is no transparency and never will be, just another sound byte to grab the medias attention and fool the easily fooled, another attempt to con people into believing that this Government cares what you think. I tried to include a copy of a letter I sent to my local Labour Candidate in the upcoming election, but unfortunately this site will not allow me to post it. To put my letter in a nutshell, this Government has betrayed the trust of the people and is acting in a way that you would have never expected, many people are not aware exactly how terrible the Internet Filter will be and what it will mean, those of us who do know have been trying desperately to show people online what it means

The loss of votes in the upcoming election can be largely attributed to Senator Conroy and his rediculous Internet Filter.

Politics is the same all around the world. Kind of like sausages, mostly pork and fillers.

Absolutely fantastic and a breath of fresh air for public servants and the community. Now the hard work begins to create a public service that is in tune, engaged and innovative enough to deliver on the promise.

The fascinating challenge is going to be to create an environment that liberates the capabilities of all members of the Australian Public Service.

On a Canberra winters day it is apt to ay that there are rays of sunshine across the APS. They should be celebrated and used to illuminate the dark corners. The issue of organisational culture looms large.

Fantastic stuff Lindsay.

So does this mean that the Government will now stop trying to force legislation such as internet censorship and storing our personal internet data upon us?!

If not, it doesn't mean a thing.

I agree with the comments about the Australian Government doing the opposite of what is says. But this is a hugely significant step to be welcomed, because once enshrined it can be used to develop good policies around open government. In fairness we have seen a commitment to more intelligent use of technology I think, although the Internet censorship thing is a national shame and I think driven more by people with a very right wing religious agenda than actually a well thought through policy. But we now have it in our hands to do something based on a formal announcement and unless there is a backflip (highly unlikely) it gives us something to move forward with. Good move Lindsay!

Congratulations on this initiative.

There's emerging social media technology that may be of interest.

Imagine government and other web sites being able to answer an open ended collection of English questions, (such as "How much could we save through green energy?") and also explaining the answers in English. Imagine government folks and citizens socially networking, Wikipedia-style, to continually expand the range of questions that can be answered.

You can Google "Executable English" to find this.

Shared use is free, and there are no advertisements.

Pfft, what a waste of time. This is all fluff to apease the taskforce recommendations.

Great... so now my private information is going to be less secure within government. What happens when a public servant goes to Facebook to engage with the public and accesses a compromised Facebook page that executes malicious code on the government workstation opening a backdoor to allow criminals to come in and steal all my private information... I hope everyone doesn't mind their private information being freely available for anyone to meddle with now. The government should be taking security seriously instead of pandering to Gen Y that wants to use "social networking" to do business. It really bugs me that security has obviously been overlooked in this declaration. The government has obligations under the Privacy Act to protect my information and this declaration certainly doesn't give me any confidence that they are meeting those obligations. The Office of the Privacy Commisioner should look into the privacy implications of this declaration.

Example of security issues with Facebook:

Also I might add , I notice the Wizzbang labour website has removed every trace of mention to the Internet Filter, you will find no information at all, its been completely hidden. the Website asks for people to get involved and offer advice on issues, so far every attempt to mention the Filter has been instantly nuked by the powers that be in the Labour party that run the site.

So your so called open Government is already burying the new slogan, catch-cry by muting any attempt to dicuss this issue on the Labour Party's site.

Yeah, really open Government, Pffft.....

I also notice that the Australian Government has started removing posts from here!

Yeah, real open Government!

How can you even put Labor and Open Government in the same sentence.

I have only been alive long enough to understand they are in government now, but what i have seen is they are a corrupt party, with no moral fiber or political attributes, they are determined to implement an internet filter to destroy freedom to information and freedom of speech.
They have wasted billions which could have been spent on infrastructure. Lead by a man named Rudd who ran the party like a dictatorship.

If labor holds power longer, God help us all (and im atheist).

Open government? Not with the internet filter!

Congratulations on this epoch making initiative! Even with any shortcomings, this is the best that can happen to citizens and society. I hope you take forward this Declaration of Open Government in letter and spirit and become a role model for Australasia. We are ready to extend support with open source communication and collaboration Tool for all citizens to be informed, engage and participate to establish true democracy.

wow an open government? really? I guess that's why some messages that are obviously against this lie have been removed, as we can't have the people who vote voicing their opinions against an open government can we?

If the Government was truly trying to be 'open' it would take on board what those messages said, not remove/hide them like they don't exist, just like the internet filter will do.

I don't expect this message to see the light of day, but if it does it won't last long. Open Government indeed...


So, who will police this alleged "openness"?

For years now Australian Veterans have asked for a "single desk" to make the whole entitlement/ benefit thing a lot easier for us olds, for a decade - nothing.

This is as distinct from the USA, where they have their National Resource Directory, drawing together, Federal, State, local, and philanthropic agencies, including Assistance dogs, under the one rubric:

So who has the best, and most open, Veterans' Administration system then...

A generic comment...

If the Government can throw open all proposals / communications / transactions (G2G and G2C) (except for select confidential / secret subjects such as foreign relations, defense, etc.and declare the secret files), through an integrated e-Governance Platform for anyone to see, then it may generate the trust and confidence of the people which appears to be lacking in the present system. The public should be free to vote for or against any issue and the government should respond with its actions on the same.

May be the identity of the communicators can be blanked for protecting the privacy of the individual; but the same must be secured at the back-end through a system of unique random anonymous identity and data security.

Any suggestions on this?

Senadora Lundy:

Tal vez le pudiera resultar de interés conocer el funcionamiento del sistema Infomex, en México. Es un sistema que permite enviar solicitudes de información por Internet, recibir las respuestas e interponer quejas.

Más del 96% de las 550,000 solicitudes de información que ha recibido la administración pública federal mexicana ha sido a través de Infomex.

Saludos cordiales.

Samuel Bonilla.

So government.

Can you please tell the good citizens of communist Australia a singular reason why we should even consider Labor to be an open government.

It was quite obvious almost immediately Kevin Rudds vision for Australia was comparable to Communist China.
A singular entity holding power with no regards for what the general public want or need.
[Moderator's note: sentence removed because of inflammatory language.]

You then attack what we hold dearly in this Democracy: Freedom to information and Freedom of speech, by the introduction and implementation of a Mandatory internet censorship program which you hide from the public because you know of the backlash this is causing.
Labor, you are a disgrace of a party and the public will not stand for your atrocious wasting of taxpayer money and the constant assault on democracy.


Congratulations on this milestone!

As many of the comments above illustrate, an important next step is demonstrating the alignment of the actions, behaviours and policies of the government with the principles and values stated in the Declaration. People do take issue with some of the policies that seem to contradict the stated direction and principles of the government.

However, many of the fundamentals are already there - and mentioned as Supporting Initiatives – or forthcoming. Incidentally, this blog – including the number of comments and the feedback from AGIMO – is a great example of that.

Personally, I am confident that with a strong focus and the right strategy for what I would call “the transition period”, the government will be successful in turning what is currently the Declaration of Open Government into a Reality of Open Government.

This is excellent news and a very positive, tangible step. From the comments here it's obvious we have a lot of work to do to convince the cynics that there is a genuine desire to engage and participate in an open and transparent manner. I know there are people within the government/APS who are keen as beans to share their data and invite the public into design and decision-making processes, who see themselves as public servants and want to do the best job they can for the citizenry of Australia.

This Declaration is a very clear authorisation to those people to go out and engage now.

Very exciting times ahead!

Great to have an Open Government. How about the language used in the information provided? Would there be a requirement for them to be written in plain language/English?

Comments on this post have been closed during the election period. For more information please see this post about the Caretaker Conventions.

Last updated: 27 July 2016