Matthew Landauer (OpenAustralia Foundation)
Please find attached my submission to the taskforce which is in plaintext format and is a Ruby program for scraping the web pages of the Federal Lobbyists Register available at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and output the data in a much more useful format where it can easily be loaded into any spreadsheet program for analysis.
The lobbyists register as presented on the PMC website has a single webpage for every lobbyist. It is therefore straightforward to find out who a particular lobbyist has as clients. However, it is very difficult to find out for a given client who the lobbyist is.
Why is it that this second type of query, which one might argue is the more useful and interesting one for the general public, is the one that is very difficult to do? Is this transparency?
Originally, I was intending to attach the resulting data to this submission, but that’s not possible for three reasons
The website http://lobbyists.pmc.gov.au crashed, probably as a result of the very small load that this application put on the server. This should not occur.
- I informed the website administrator via their contact form that the website is down, but as it’s the weekend there is nobody available to fix it.
- The copyright statement on the website http://www.pmc.gov.au/copyright.cfm does not allow for republishing without permission. So, I am not allowed to send government data to a government taskforce even though everyone can clearly see the original data.
The attached Ruby program is also publicly available on the web at http://github.com/mlandauer/lobbying/
All the best,