Introductory Video Transcript
G’day I’m Lindsay Tanner, Minister for Finance and Deregulation in the Rudd Government. And I’ve also have significant responsibilities with respect to information management and IT in the Australian Government.
Information technologies are transforming the way that governments do business all around the world, they are opening up new possibilities for governments to improve transparency, accountability and efficiency of government. In particular web 2.0 technologies are delivering new opportunities that governments in many countries are just starting to exploit and its really crucial that in Australia we up there amongst the leading countries, making use of these new opportunities.
There are two particular themes that I and the government are keen to pursue. The first is transparency, using these technologies to maximise the extent to which government information, data, and material can be put out into the public domain that we can be as accountable as possible, as transparent as possible and that this data is available for use in the general community.
And secondly to improve the ways in which we engage with people in the wider community; in consultation, in discussion, in dialogue, about regulation, about government decisions, about policy generally. These are just two of the key themes that we are very keen pursue to maximise the opportunities we can get from these technologies to improve the way we govern.
In order to pursue that the Government have established a taskforce chaired by Dr Nicolas Gruen who is a very well know blogger, economics consultant, head of Lateral Economics and one of the key thinkers on regulation and technology in Australia today. The taskforce during the balance of this year, with representation from both public and private sectors, is going to explore all of the avenues, all the possibilities for reform that the Government should be pursuing in order to maximise these opportunities, in order to ensure that we can both maximise use of government information, transparency, and better engagement between the government and the wider community.
I am really excited about the possibilities that are involved here, I’m really committed to ensuring our government and our country are at the forefront of world developments in this area and I am very pleased that we have been able to establish this taskforce to set a lead to establish a pathway for us into the future.
I would now like to introduce Dr Nicolas Gruen who will chair the taskforce and has a very substantial track record of involvement in these issues.
Thanks Lindsay. The Obama administration came to Government on the magic carpet of web 2.0; that is the use of the internet to involve citizens in what their government does for them and what they can do for their government. The Brown Government in the United Kingdom has been very active in this area for several years and a range of exciting initiatives have come from there. And all sorts of other governments are getting excited about this.
The Australian government is excited about it and there are a number of agencies that have already raced to the forefront. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has gone from selling its data behind a closed model where that data couldn’t go free, where it couldn’t be used easily by people who came up with ways in which it might be used that no one had thought of. It’s gone from that to being released under a creative commons licence where anyone anywhere can look at that data to look at what is going on in Australia and we get the benefit of that.
The ABC has initiated its pool project where there is a range of things going on again under creative commons licence and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney was the first Museum in the world to release a range of photographs on Flickr, again leading to all sorts of results that couldn’t really be imagined at the time.
That’s why I call this kind of exercise ‘engineering for serendipity’.
Lindsay has summarised our two basic tasks, which are to let as much data, as much information as the public sector funds as possible go free on the Internet, to be used in all sorts of ways that we can’t anticipate. The other task of course is to try and use the new ways in which people are using the web to really enrich the way governments govern and the way governments collaborate with citizens of Australia. I am certainly looking forward to the challenge of this taskforce and the opportunity of this taskforce and I hope to be able to be able to keep you informed of its progress as we go.
Thanks Nicolas. I would like to make an invitation to you and to everybody in the wider community that are interested in these possibilities, to make a contribution to submit to the taskforce, to make your views known and to help us reform government, to help us improve the transparency, the quality and the depth of government and the engagement between the Government and citizens in our country.
There are a lot of exciting opportunities here; Nicolas’ taskforce is going to be doing the hard work of working through all of the possibilities and developing ideas for reform. We would like you to contribute.