Labor senator and technology advocate Kate Lundy has told a New Zealand conference that only high-speed broadband offered by the National Broadband Network will lead to a true open government in Australia.
While Labor continues in its to attempts to woo the three rural independents into forming a minority government with promises of NBN delivery in their respective electorates, Lundy told the audience at New Zealand Labour's OpenLabourNZ event in Wellington on Saturday that the only way to ensure open government through the internet was to ensure every citizen had access to it.
"How can you have genuinely open government if you don't also have a strategy for universal internet access that is affordable and also high bandwidth?" she asked in a pre-recorded video for the event.
"[The NBN] provides the prerequisite for an open and transparent government to be genuinely democratic [and] without that policy our investments in open and transparent government would be the purview of the privileged few — the socio-economic demographic that can afford high bandwidth, high quality internet access," she added.
"The NBN resolves that problem for us. The NBN is not just economic infrastructure for the future, it is social infrastructure for the future that will forever underpin democratic involvement and participation by citizens in this country."
Lundy linking the NBN to open government process comes just as some in the telco industry have accused the Labor Government of not being open in discussions when initially planning the $43 billion project.
The senator provided the Kiwi open government enthusiasts with a brief history of Government 2.0 in Australia, from the very first Govt 2.0 report and the taskforce creation, to the Moran report on public sector reform, to the Australian Government's declaration of open government and the creation of the information commissioner. These, she said, set up "a very comprehensive plan for how to achieve open government".
She also spoke of the cultural and attitudinal change in the public service that led to public servants communicating with the general public via the government's Australia.gov.au website and of the work she had done to bring policy discussions out in the open at the Public Sphere events to encourage "citizen-centric services but community-centric policies".
Lundy advised the New Zealand audience that fear of openness and prohibitive cost must not be reasons against moving towards open government.
"It's not about reinventing anything, it's just about a clever reuse of what is already out there," she said. "It's about making sure what information is collected at taxpayer expense for the government about the public is made available to the public."
The video of Lundy's address, along with the rest of the speakers at the conference can be viewed here.