Blogs could be the next frontier for governments to discuss plans and policies with citizens, according to special minister of state Gary Nairn.
Nairn told the CeBIT conference in Sydney this morning that blogs could represent a "new era" in community interaction as the government develops more online services.
"Blogs could split up consultation and enable government and others to analyse and debate issues in reasonable detail," he said.
"This could then lead to more informed policy and program development."
This could not just be the government talking to its citizens, but also citizens talking amongst themselves about policy issues, according to Nairn.
"Blogging could lead to a new era of community interaction.
"For example, Australians in the city might learn more about life in the bush from people that live there."
Localised blogs and other online technologies could help bridge the rural-city communication divide in Australia, according to Nairn.
Nairn discussed the blogs in a roundup of the "significant progress" of the e-government strategy, which he launched at the same event 12 months ago.
"More and more people are accessing [government] information and services exclusively online," he said.
"We now have one in five people only dealing with government online. That's increased quite a bit in the last 12 months or so. We think it'll go to one in three probably within a couple of years."
The government has designated the australia.gov.au portal as the main entry point to online services.
The site currently attracted about 500,000 hits per month, said Nairn.
Key to the success of this site was the search capability developed by CSIRO spin-off Funnelback, he said. The improved search has helped citizens locate government services more easily. The search tool has been adopted by the Web sites of 20 other government agencies.
Nairn also reiterated the government's plans to introduce user accounts to access online government services.
"Through australia.gov.au we want to eventually provide citizens with individual user accounts and simple access to government services available online through a single sign-on process," he said.
"We also want to allow for the pre-population of forms so users don't have to re-enter the same information. We want to cut out more red tape to let people comply with government requirements more easily."