Australia publishes first government transparency action plan

By on 01/11/2016
Open Government Partnership regional summit

Better protection for tax fraud whistleblowers and new measures to tackle corruption in the public sector are among the commitments made in a national ‘open government’ plan published today by the Australian government.

Australia is part of the 70-country Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international body founded in 2011 to secure commitments from member states to promote government transparency and accountability.

Membership of the organisation requires governments to produce an action plan every two years in consultation with citizens. Australia’s plan will be its first since signing up to the initiative at the end of 2015.

The draft Australian action plan sets out 14 commitments around the themes of transparency and openness in business, open data and digital transformation, access to government information, public sector integrity, and public participation and engagement.

Specific commitments include one aimed at helping prevent tax fraud through better protections for people who report wrongdoings to the Australian Taxation Office. New measures to improve safeguards for whistleblowers will be put out to consultation in December this year.

Another commitment is to tackle potential corruption in the extractive industries. The Australian government said it would aim to become compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard to promote the open and accountable management of natural resources, by 2019.

Meanwhile, the action plan sets out a range of measures under a commitment to strengthen Australia’s general framework for tackling corruption and bribery in the public sector. This will happen on a number of fronts, headed up by the Attorney-General’s Department – kicking off next year with a round table examining the effectiveness of Australia’s current anti-corruption laws and policies.

The draft action plan will be open for consultation until mid-November. The Australian government hopes to submit the finalised plan to the Open Government Partnership before the end of this year.

In early December, France will host the fourth Open Government Partnership Network Summit in Paris. Announcing the summit last week, organisers from the OGP Support Unit said the summit came at a “critical time for global democratic renewal and the pushback against populism and divisiveness”.

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See also:

World Bank official to lead Open Government Partnership

Bulgaria passes legislation requiring all future government software to be open source

OECD calls on Lithuania to make government more open

New digital agency to lead Australian e-government push

US government tells departments to share source code

About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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