Challenge of our era: transparency, engagement and keeping public trust

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Senior public servants, academics and corporate experts from Australia and New Zealand will come together next week to tackle what has been learnt and what remains unsolved as technological advances change the government-citizen/client relationship. ANZSOG’s John Wanna opens debate with a new research paper.

The complex relationship between citizens and governments are being recalibrated through the adoption and dynamics of new technologies, argues John Wanna, ANZSOG’s director of research, in a paper released ahead of the school’s 10th annual conference next week.

Executive governments in the Westminster system have traditionally held the upper hand in the asymmetric information game between a powerful executive and everyone else — the opposition, media outlets and citizens. “Sometimes even the parliament doesn’t know what the executive is up to,” Wanna points out.

But now, he says, governments are playing catch-up. He wonders if information communication network platforms will transform the government-citizen/client relationship, or “merely become another instrument of possible influence and control”:

“Already, some sections of government and the community are alert to the opportunities posed by these potentially transformational technologies; but many other sections are either showing little interest or waiting to see what transpires after others pioneer the way.

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