Thursday, April 24, 2014

Australia welches on open government

Last year, Australia announced that it was joining the Open Government Partnership. But now that Tony Abbott is in charge, they're backing out:

THE Abbott government is reconsidering Labor’s pledge to sign Australia up for a major international transparency and citizen engagement initiative.

Australia was expected to formally enter the Open Government Partnership this month, joining 63 other nations in rolling out action plans to make their governments more open and accountable to the public.

But Attorney-General George Brandis has instead passed responsibility for the OGP to the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann. Senator Cormann was invited to attend a regional OGP meeting next month but will only send a mid-level bureaucrat — and just to watch.

Senator Cormann’s spokeswoman confirmed the OGP commitment — made almost a year ago — was under review.

The Abbott government has been no friend of open government, and has led a massive increase in secrecy since coming to power. So its not really surprising that they're now also backing away from international commitments in that area. It is however disappointing that a government in a modern, democratic state thinks it can get away with it. OTOH, looking at what else they get away with, their contemptuous attitude towards the public is hardly surprising.