Celebrate and encourage citizens' Right to Know

By The Mandarin

September 22, 2016

Growing public expectation of open government and access to data held about them should be welcomed say Australia’s state and Commonwealth information commissioners ahead of International Right to Know Day on September 28.

“The right to information and our ongoing commitment to Open Government is a cornerstone of modern democratic society,” say the six statutory officers, Western Australia’s Sven Bluemmel, Tasmania’s Richard Connock, Victoria’s Michael Ison, Queensland’s Rachael Rangihaeata, New South Wales’ Elizabeth Tydd and the Commonwealth’s Timothy Pilgrim.

The commissions and ombudsman’s offices are encouraging the public sector and the community at large to explore the possibilities of open government.

“When done well it increases access to information and data which results in better and more responsive services to the community, as well as increased accountability and the promotion of public participation in government decision-making.”

Lecture: the central role of data in securing future prosperity

This year, Queensland’s annual Solomon Lecture will be the centrepiece of the Right to Know campaign. The Lecture will be live-streamed on Right to Know Day, September 28, 2016.

Professor Anne Tiernan, director of the Policy Innovation Hub at Griffith University, will argue that strategic investments in knowledge infrastructure and a favourable right to information policy environment give governments the capacity to realise many benefits — democratic, economic, social and environmental that might flow from more collaborative, community-led and data-informed public policies.

After more than a quarter of a century of almost continuous growth and prosperity, Australia confronts an uncertain economic future. Like other advanced nations, our expectations and our public policy settings will need to adjust to the realities of an international context characterised by low growth and falling living standards. And growing inequality?

But if the last seven years are any indication, the prospects for reform and change look grim. Australia’s politics has been notable for its volatility and hyper-partisanship, played out in one-term governments, rapid turnover among political leaders, growing and falling support for the major parties. The federal election of July 2, 2016 only confirmed the widely shared sense that a deep malaise has afflicted our politics — fuelling voter disengagement and undermining public trust in our public institutions and political processes.

Far from the elite debate, however, something quite different is happening. Across the country, and particularly in Queensland, a range of exciting, community-led collaborations, like the Logan Together initiative are demonstrating how open innovation practices can catalyse and drive social change. Networks of partners from all tiers of government, the community and private sectors, and from universities, are using evidence and data to re-imagine the provision of human services.

At a time when place is recognised as fundamental to innovation and the knowledge economy, could locally-responsive approaches premised on collaboration between individuals, communities, businesses and governments provide the key to our future prosperity and to rebuilding trust in public processes and institutions?

Watch the event live online from 9am, or register to be in the audience at the State Library of Queensland, Stanley Place, Southbank.

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