Points of View 29th March 2018

Consultation round one on Second National Action Plan

by Peter Timmins

The following  personal comments about the recent consultation meetings organised by Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are posted on the PMC website.

Always interested in your views.


Based on the Sydney meet that I attended and feedback from Canberra and Melbourne, the round of consultations was disappointing to put it mildly.

Attendances were low. The lack of awareness of the OGP initiative continues. Beyond utilisation of social media, were steps taken to identify civil society organisations that would seem to have an interest in these issues? Did any agency other than PMC refer to the consultation on their website or contact organisations they deal with to encourage engagement?

The absence of indications from government of serious intent is a factor in the low level of engagement.

When has the PM followed up his words of November 2015 with anything that resembles strong ongoing enthusiasm for OGP principles and values? A statement by the PM followed by a personal invitation to come forward, contribute and engage with government might have received a better response.

The presentation and facilitation at the Sydney meeting would not engender confidence in any new comer that this is an initiative worth time and energy. Senior government officials were not present. Those who were lacked background and detailed knowledge which meant discussion of particular topics could not get beyond generalities.

Thought bubbles were the dish de jour.The Butchers paper notes published on the website do not reflect the views of the gathering.There was no attempt to seek consensus on topics or possible commitments.

Four hours during working hours is a big ask for those gainfully employed.Another session- shorter,deeper, attended by senior people and likely more engaging-might have seen others attend.

I’d add that the limited take up so far on the invitation to lodge written submissions also reflects low awareness and lack of enthusiasm-for reasons cited above.

An attempt to lift the game should start with the Prime Minister making it clear publicly that Australia is committed to reform, what is on the table and anything that isn’t, and that he and his ministers welcome contributions and will ensure they are given serious consideration.