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Australia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

The Australian government made substantial progress in completing several commitments in areas such as combating corporate crime and steps to improve the discoverability of government data. To increase the ambition of commitments, future action plan development could involve a wider range of interests and include further steps to enhance awareness and support of open government initiatives within government and in the community generally.

Highlights

Highlighted Commitments Overview Well-Designed?*
1. Improve whistleblower protections in the tax and corporate sectors This commitment seeks into introduce legislation that would establish greater whistleblower protections in the tax and corporate sectors, which would substantially increase the accountability of corporate actors. No
3. Extractive industries transparency As Australia has no centralised system for disclosure of information relating to domestic extractive industries payments to government, this commitment is notable in its intent to implement the EITI Standard. No
15. Enhance public participation in government decision making Developing and implementing a framework with best practices for public consultation that could be standardised across the Commonwealth government could substantially increase public participation. No

*Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as specific, relevant, and has a transformative potential impact

Process

Overall, participation during the development of the action plan was collaborative but involved a relatively narrow range of interests. There was also little involvement by the legislature and judiciary in this process. This, coupled with low public awareness and a delay in establishing an implementation monitoring body, limited the ambition of the commitments put forward.

Performance

The majority of commitments were measurable and relevant to OGP values. Future commitments could aim for more transformative potential impacts with greater accountability for their completion.

IRM Recommendations

1. Broaden the range of stakeholders and interests reflected in the open government process at the Commonwealth level, including increasing civil society collaboration in government decision-making structures and processes. This should at least result in a new commitment topic for the next action plan.
2. Developing a whole-of-government approach to enhancing awareness and support for open government initiatives, including by monitoring, evaluating and publicising their impact.
3. Establish a collaborative multi-stakeholder forum to work on establishing a federal anti-corruption agency and lobbying and political donation reform initiatives.
4. Detail a comprehensive process for reform of information management and access practices within Commonwealth government agencies, including the current and possible future roles of Archives, the Digital Transformation Agency, and the Australian Information Commissioner in that reform.
5. Expand the role of the Open Government Forum to include consideration of open government initiatives at the state and territory level to enhance coordination between jurisdictions and to explore development of sub-national open government action commitments.

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