This site was developed to support the Government 2.0 Taskforce, which operated from June to December 2009. The Government responded to the Government 2.0 Taskforce's report on 3 May 2010. As such, comments are now closed but you are encouraged to continue the conversation at

Official Issues Paper Released

2009 July 23
by Nicholas Gruen

Thanks to everyone who provided comments and input on the beta of Towards Government 2.0: An Issues Paper over the last few days. This has been very useful and has helped us to refine the paper.

Now it’s time to release the Paper formally.  Remember we can’t promise to give your input proper consideration if we receive it after the start of business on 24 August 2009.

And may I draw your attention to the beginning of an introductory box in the paper which reads as follows.

We want to hear the arguments, information and stories that you have to tell us.  The rest of this document is simply our way of helping you do that.  It is not a template that you should feel obliged to follow, though we hope that this paper helps.  There may be questions you wish to address that are not here, just as there may be questions we have raised you do not wish to address.

The Paper is available in the following formats:

There are a few ways you can respond to the paper, including:

  • sending your response by email (or attached to an email) to
  • lodging a written submission by post to
    Government 2.0 Taskforce Secretariat
    Department of Finance and Deregulation
    John Gorton Building
    King Edward Terrace
    PARKES ACT 2600
  • submit your comments online through our Consultation page

We look forward to your responses.

Postscript: We have created a Submissions page where you can view submissions made to the Taskforce.

36 Responses
  1. 2009 July 24

    As a visually impaired person, I’m disappointed to find that you have not created a tagged, accessible PDF. Clearly best-practice, accessible formats are key to successful Gov2.0 implementation.

    Clearly the alternative formats are accessible, however give the tendency of government (and others) to publish in PDF, its important that this committee set an example and do it correctly.


    • 2009 July 24


      Thank you for your comment regarding accessible file formats.

      The Australian Government does not currently endorse the PDF file format as an accessible version for the provision of information, and requests additional formats to be provided with PDF.

      Our preferred format for information online is HTML, and the Government 2.0 Taskforce Secretariat is committed to providing accessible HTML files as much as is possible in the first instance. Additionly we have provided a range of formats for the Issues Paper.

      Unfortunately, we have yet to find the consistent benefits of tagging PDF files, as different assistive technologies may and may not pick up the relevant attributes (such as reading order, headings and paragraph start and end tags). You may agree that users with different web literacy skills also have varying levels of access with tagged PDF files, although this is not as prevalent an issue with content provided in HTML.

      The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is currently reviewing the accessibility support of PDF files, including tagged files. We would welcome your feedback on how you have found tagged PDF files to improve accessibility or your experience online. If you would like, please provide feedback to We are seeking ways to make all file formats more accessible, and would appreciate your thoughts.

      • 2009 July 28

        While it’s not apropos the current post, as a user experience (including, at time, accessibility) practitioner, I find it fascinating that AGIMO takes the stance Peter describes above. It’s like I’m hearing an excuse from 1995.

        PDF, including its tagged form, is now an agreed ISO standard. Its behavior for vision impaired users is demonstrably consistent when documents are authored by a trained, competent author. Whether one is preparing a PDF using a tool from Adobe, in Microsoft Office, Open Office or any one of the plethora of tools that now product PDFs according to the ISO standard, a predictable result is possible.

        Don’t blame the tools, train the producers to use the tools properly.

        • 2009 September 6
          Denis Hawkins permalink

          Agree and well said.

      • 2009 July 28

        Indeed. If there are no tags included in the document, then Acrobat will just make a “best guess”.

        While HTML is preferable in many cases, it suffers from exactly the same problem as an untagged PDF.

        A document must have a structure, through use of headings, lists, paragraphs and tables as well as additional tagging in images.

        Bad HTML abounds as much as bad PDFs, (though I haven’t gone looking at the compliance levels in Commonwealth Government websites) and is just as useless to someone using accessibility tools.

        The point of having establish standards (as Stephen has pointed out) is that when a format is know, builders of accessibility technology, such as screen readers and magnifiers, actually have a known structure to work with, so the user can access the information being provided.

        While you suggest that alternatives to PDF are required, I regularly need information from Commonwealth agencies as part of my job, and most of that only comes as PDF.

        The lessons in how to create good documents, regardless of format, are too often not taught. A strong structure will lead to strong accessibility. And these are skills that are easily taught. Just use your preferred search engine to look for “Create accessible PDF from ” to see some examples.


      • 2009 July 28
        Nicholas Gruen permalink

        Steven and Andrew,

        Thanks for your comments with which I agree. Peter and I were already aware that we could have and should have been more accommodating in our response when you drew it to our attention. We’ll be in touch.

      • 2009 August 11

        Hi Peter,

        Acrobat Reader has a default built-in screen reader and does not require any further assistive technology to read PDFs which have been built using Adobe’s accessibility guidelines. This reader is excellent quality and the Acrobat Reader is ubiquitous with a reach of around 98% in connected PCs.

        All PDFs can be made accessible both easily and with the assistance of the accessibility reporting functions made available in Acrobat Professional.



    • 2009 July 31

      Thanks all

      We appreciate your feedback and your comments will be considered as part of our Accessibility Review.

      We agree, web standards are essential to improve accessibility. We understand that properly marked up HTML is currently one of the most accessible online formats. AGIMO is currently researching appropriate use of PDF, however in the meantime a “best guess” approach isn’t good enough. Knowledge of how to create valid HTML is ubiquitous, opposed to the knowledge of how to properly mark-up tagged PDF files. Even now, properly tagged PDF documents – that are accessible to a majority – are hard to come by.

      In fact, the Australian Human Rights Commission notes this on their website: “…Software exists to provide some access to the text of some PDF documents, but for a PDF document to be accessible to this software, it must be prepared in accordance with the guidelines that Adobe have developed. Even when these guidelines are followed, the resulting document will only be accessible to those people who have the required software and the skills to use it.”

      In order to model best practice, we need to understand best practice. We need to understand the needs of all users, including those with disabilities, and those with differing levels of web and computer experience. To do so, we’ll be conducting formal testing with external accessibility experts. I hope that you will help us understand these issues by contributing to our Accessibility Review. Please send your comments to

      While we review our policy on the accessibility support of technologies like PDF, we continue to support the AHRC stance: “The Commission’s view is that organisations who distribute content only in PDF format, and who do not also make this content available in another format such as RTF, HTML, or plain text, are liable for complaints under the DDA.”

      Following the review, regardless of the outcome, more education and advice will be made available by AGIMO. As we all agree, training and education is essential not only for the creation of accessible documents, but also for the cultural shift towards universal design.

      Thank you again for you contribution to this discussion.

      • 2009 July 31

        Peter, I understand your point of view, and that you seek the best possible solution. However, what you are doing here, metaphorically speaking, is pointing out the size of the chasm rather than figuring out how to build the required bridge.

        It’s all very well that it’s hard to create well marked up PDFs, but if your visually impaired readers are asking for them, I’d suggest it’s incumbent upon you as a government agency to go out of your way to provide just such a solution.

        I’m more than happy to put you in touch with experts from the Adobe side of the equation and the visually impaired community if you don’t already have those contacts. I have close contacts in both groups.

      • 2009 July 31
        Gordon Grace permalink

        For those following along at home:

        World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes (Australian Human Rights Commission) [Content Versus Navigation]
        Disability Discrimination Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner – Graeme Innes AM
        PM Rudd offends the blind … by saying ‘Blind Freddy’ (extract below, emphasis added)

        DISABILITY groups have been insulted by federal politicians for the second time in a fortnight, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd the latest offender.

        Blind people took exception to his use of the term “Blind Freddy” yesterday, claiming it suggested they were stupid.

        National Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, who is blind, said: “I think it is a term that is an unfortunate one to use because it demeans blind people’s capacity to think, not just their capacity to see. I find it quite an insulting term and I find it personally insulting.”

        As Peter stated – AGIMO is following AHRC’s lead on this particular issue. Perhaps persuading AHRC to revise their stance could cascade through to AGIMO’s recommendations?

      • 2009 July 31

        Gordon (and Peter), would it not be better to lead rather than follow? To set an example that says, “see, we can be ahead of recommendations and we’re trying really hard”?

        I think that, in part, that is exactly what the Taskforce itself is about – breaking new ground, setting the pace, doing more.

        Declaring “we meet the recommendation” doesn’t show a desire or willingness to be more. While I’m certainly not vision impaired (unless I remove my specs), the fact that Andrew is and has declared his desire to have well-formed PDF available, suggests that there may be a non-vocal group of others out there who might like the very same thing. If you set the pace, you show other agencies, including the AHRC, that it’s possible.

        And, quite seriously, my offer stands. I am in close contact with several highly qualified people in terms of accessibility, vision impairment and PDF. I would love to put you in contact. You know where to find me.

    • 2009 July 31
      Peter Alexander permalink


      Thanks – certainly it is better to lead than follow – but as I am sure you appreciate accessibility is one of the areas we strive to get right so will always tread carefully with the advice of experts (and my internal guys who are experts too). We will get in contact and take you up on your offer.


  2. 2009 July 24
    Nicholas Gruen permalink

    Thanks Andrew,

    I will get back to you on this. Unfortunately I am in a Taskforce Meeting until late in the afternoon, but will respond as soon as possible. It may be possible for someone to respond to you before then, but we will see.

  3. 2009 July 25
    Lloyd Bunting permalink

    The “principles for quality and integrity of information” raise an important issue in relation to the use of government websites as a source of information. Perhaps the best examples of the issue I have in mind include
    Minister’s “media releases” page: when they leave office, their website disapperas. How does one access the media releases? What happened to the “retention of documents” requirement?
    Departmental program sites: programs and projects may have their own websites for the duration of the program or project. And when the program or project is complete the websites disappear. Same question as above.

    • 2009 July 26

      Hi Lloyd,

      I agree that it is not always clear when and how government departments store old websites and content. I don’t know of any government agencies that explain their archiving approaches within their own websites.

      However you can refer to the Records Management policies and recommendations from the National Archive of Australia (NAA) for more information on this topic (

      Perhaps you could submit your concerns, views and ideas as part of this consultation regarding transparency in how online content (records) should be stored for later retrieval (without confusing people into thinking that the content is current).

      • 2009 August 3

        I can see that having a quality policy for Records Management in a Web 2.0 open collaborative environment will pose a challenge for NAA’s 2001 guidelines.

    • 2009 November 12
      Nicholas G permalink

      Hi Lloyd – you may wish to check out the site. Don’t forget, record-keeping a project has different legal requirements than archiving a website for cultural reference. Therefore, National Archives for record keeping practices and the National Library (along with Film and Sound) for viewing archived material. You will find almost everything you need – including Minister’s websites and media releases (in text, audio and visual formats) at these locations. is also very good for consuming Australian based sites.

  4. 2009 August 3
    KerrieAnne permalink

    interesting to read of how a vision impaired person from Indonesia is very appreciative of being able to access online content – perhaps a message there for Australia too ..

    “Until now, I have been enjoying the benefits of Google Reader using a custom client. Today, I am pleased to inform that the “mainstream” Google Reader is now ready to work with screenreaders, and Fire Vox, the self-voicing extension to Firefox. This brings the benefits of content feeds and feed readers to the most visually impaired users.

    Google Reader has full support for keyboard. With google accessibility enhancements have been added, all user actions now produce relevant feedback discussed adaptive technology through user choice. This response created using Accessible Rich Internet Applications (Wai-Aria), a standard developed to improve the accessibility of Web-2.0 applications. Wai-Aria currently supported by Firefox – with the support of the future to come in other browsers. This is one of the main advantages of building on open standards.

    Google originally prototyped this feature in Google Reader using the framework AxsJAX. After extensive testing this enhancement, we’ve now integrated into the main product. See related posts in Google Reader Blog for additional technical details.

    Looking forward to the front of the information the better for all!”

  5. 2009 August 11

    I noticed that the online consultant page for the Issues Paper only has 12 comments so far. I was wondering, how are other forms of feedback tacking? Can you give us a run down of the direct feedback received and can you share it?

    • 2009 August 12

      Hi James,

      As well as the CommentPress submissions, the Taskforce has received an additional two written submissions.

      Appendix One of the Issues Paper says that as a general principle all submissions will be made available through the Taskforce’s website.


      Taskforce Secretariat

      • 2009 August 12

        Sorry, I mean can we see that feedback now or do we have to wait until after the submission period ends? There is a lot to cover and I would rather try to be more focused with my feedback. Thanks! :-)

        • 2009 August 12

          Hi James,

          Submissions won’t be posted online until after the submission period ends.


          Taskforce Secretariat

          • 2009 August 12

            Is there a particular reason why they won’t be shared earlier, unless of course the submitter has specifically asked that their submission should not be released (I can’t think why of course)? After all, we have the technology…

            • 2009 August 13
              Kerry Webb permalink

              I agree with James. I think one of the benefits that 2.0 can bring to the submission process is to make them interactive. If you can’t see what other people are proposing until after the period has closed, there’s a great opportunity missed.

          • 2009 August 14

            Thank you – that’s great!

  6. 2009 August 13

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus. If we had some way of accessing submissions as they came in (I’ve mentioned this kind of activity on another thread here), we have the opportunity not only to improve our own contributions, but also, perhaps, to add insights not otherwise possible to submissions from others.

    Shouldn’t be too hard. Why not do it?

  7. 2009 August 14
    AJ Jack permalink

    The existance of this task force seems to have been fairly well hidden. I work for a state government agency and only found out about it by accident.
    I saw an article on bloglines using an RSS feed from LifeHacker. Ironically, I couldn’t view the whole story on lifehacker as my agency deems that site to be not a site I should be looking at during work hours.
    I am keen to go to the roadshow to find out more about the taskforce but am surprised that the submissions are due in before the Roadshow has made it all around the country.

    • 2009 August 14

      AJ, I think the Taskforce has received a fair bit of press, if you keep your eye on issues like public sector reform and Government 2.0. So, it’s disappointing you’ve not seen it before now.

      Can I suggest that you join the Gvernment 2.0 Australia Google Group. It’s quite active and has participants from Federal, state and local level. You can find it at

  8. 2009 August 20

    Hi There,

    It’s great that this issue is open for public comment.

    My one bugbear is accessibility. Whatever information is provided by the government, whether there is a charge or not, the information MUST be available in accessible formats. Accessible formats could be HTML, accessible PDF, RTF etc – as long as it is accessible. A word of advice, information such as consultation papers should be made available in WOrd as it is much easier to read and navigate through – better even than html.
    As a blind computer user, I cannot express enough the frustration I and others experience when we can’t access the info we need for our studies, employment or leisure. SO if I’m getting annoying because I’m harping on and on about accessibility, you should be greatful that at least you’re not having any problem accessing it.

    And I may be pushing it but it is also important to have information accessible in different languages where possible. This may sometimes be achieved by liaising with other countries and linking to their websites, as does the Bureau of Meteorology.

    Please feel free to contact me via email if you wish to discuss this further.


    I cann

  9. 2009 August 24
    ANON permalink

    Dear Gov 2.0

    I have noted that there are different copyright requirements across almost all Government Departments. This can make it very confusing. The requirement to obtain permission and to utilise “shortened” url’s does not appear to have been considered.

    It is difficult to utilise Government information “lawfully” without consistency across all of Government.

    Other Matters:

    What are the copyright requirements at the State and Local government levels?

    How does the Copyright Act 1968 apply to new technology such as “twitter” ?

    How will the Copyright Act 1968 be applied in the future to Government data?

    Can I use data for “mash-ups” without seeking permission?

    Why does permission from Government Departments take so long for approval?

    If I use material for promotional purposes what fees are appropriate? What if the information does not deliver a commercial rate of return?

    How will inappropriate material be “taken down” when the servers are not within the Australian jurisdiction?

    Thank you for your consideration of these matters.



  10. 2009 August 24
    ANON permalink

    Dear Gov 2.0


    This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. All other rights are reserved.

    Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to:

    Commonwealth Copyright Administration
    Attorney-General’s Department
    3-5 National Circuit
    Barton ACT 2600
    Fax: (02) 6241 3488
    Tel: (02) 6141 3300

    or submitted via the copyright request form on the website



  11. 2009 August 24

    I’ve only just realised that this convo and project exists which doesn’t make me a very informed cit but …where to begin? All aspects of “information” interest me a lot. By the way the website I’ve given is for a community group and doesn’t say much about the generality of information. As you see our group has tried to spread the word about various issues in which government is or should be is involved such as housing, Centrelink, domestic violence, community cohesion and celebration, Meet the Candidates etc etc.
    As Information Officer and related roles in the Department of Immigration (under various incarnations), I had quite a bit of experience in trying to get the word out and about. Martin Stewart-Weeks comments strike many chords with me!
    Unfortunately I haven’t time to outline all the ideas that have come up over the years but if I was able to be included somewhere in this project I might be able to make a useful contribution. Sorry if I haven’t blogged in the right space but I find this website and what we’re supposed to do a bit confusing.
    Good plan though!

  12. 2009 August 24
    ANON permalink

    Dear Gov 2.0


    Can I link my website to the AusIndustry website?

    Yes. AusIndustry receives many requests and welcomes links to the AusIndustry website, provided that the link complies with this policy. In particular, you should note the following conditions:

    •All links should be to the AusIndustry homepage via The AusIndustry logo is trademarked. Written permission must be obtained to reproduce AusIndustry logos and images in every instance, and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
    •No endorsement of your site by AusIndustry is to be implied, and this must be expressly stated (see below).
    •AusIndustry content must not be framed within your site.
    •Your use of any material from the AusIndustry website will be subject to the restrictions and disclaimers appearing on the AusIndustry website.
    AusIndustry description

    A description of AusIndustry should be included, either immediately under or immediately next to the link. Please use the following set of words when providing a description of AusIndustry with your link:

    AusIndustry is the Australian Government’s business unit within the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. AusIndustry provides a range of incentives for Australian businesses to invest, innovate and be internationally competitive. AusIndustry products cover a range of industry sectors and business needs. They are delivered in the form of grants, loans, tax and duty concessions and access to venture capital. This link does not mean that AusIndustry endorses this site or its content.

    How do I get permission to use AusIndustry’s logo?

    The AusIndustry logo is trademarked. Permission to use the AusIndustry logo will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. To request permission to use the AusIndustry logo, please contact us at:

    Linking from AusIndustry’s site

    AusIndustry’s website contains a useful links page which has links to a range of stakeholder websites. These include Federal and State government agencies, industry associations, and stakeholder groups. Generally, commercial organisations are not eligible to be linked from the AusIndustry website.

    If you would like your website linked to AusIndustry please contact us at:

    Restrictions on Use and other important information

    In addition to this linking policy, the AusIndustry website contains information on restrictions that apply to use of material on the AusIndustry website. This information includes, amongst other things, restrictions in relation to Privacy, Copyright and, to the extent permitted by law, a disclaimer by the Commonwealth of any liability to any person arising from use of the AusIndustry website.

    These restrictions and disclaimer will apply to your use of any material from the AusIndustry website. Accordingly, you should familiarise yourself with these terms before seeking to link to the AusIndustry website. To view these policies and disclaimer please refer to the AusIndustry home page.


    AusIndustry reserves the right to change these terms at any time and solely at its discretion. AusIndustry reserves the right, solely at its discretion, to request removal of your link at any time. It also reserves the right to review your link.

    More information

    If you have any questions or comments about creating a link to our site, please contact us:

    Customer Channel Management
    GPO Box 9839
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  13. 2009 August 14

    Nice one. Well done in taking the kind of action we both encourage, and that exhibits that the “try things” and “just do it” elements of Government 2.0 are being considered and acted on.

  14. 2009 August 14

    Adding to the conversation here, it would be helpful if visitors could Vote up or down or Like particular submissions.

    Experience with previous government submission processes suggests that each submission may present the thought of other people (if perhaps not expressed the same way). Allowing an expression of support would alleviate the need for individuals or corporations repeating the same themes/messages or even having to prepare a detailed submission on their own account.

    Although there is merit to requiring a submission, having registered/verified users vote on or like individual themes might help you reach a broader audience.

Comments are closed.