Exclusive: Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner (Part Two)

 

How the internet changes politics.

In June, the Federal Government announced it would spend $2.45 million on a 15-member Web 2.0 Taskforce, to investigate new ways in which the Government might interact with its public.

In Part Two of iTnews' interview with Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, we discuss how the internet is likely to reshape the future of the political process.

iTnews: What is the Web 2.0 workforce all about?

Tanner: The Web 2.0 taskforce is really about how government relates to the wider world.

It is really dealing with two separate but related questions.

The first relates to government data.

By definition, across government there is this vast quantity of miscellaneous data of all shapes and sizes. Some of it readily, publicly accessible, some of it not particularly sensitive or secret but nonetheless either not made public or made public in a way that makes it difficult to use.

The former Government, to its credit, made most of the ABS' [Australian Bureau of Statistics] work available free. With the idea being that it will increase business productivity, and that some businesses will even emerge built around manipulating and making better use of that data.

So that's the first objective of the taskforce - to scope that question with some thoughts about how to make our information more accessible and useful.

The second is essentially government blogging, how to use Web 2.0 technologies to improve the dialogue between government and the rest of society.

My one line description of this is that this is broadly moving from a bilateral conversation to a multilateral conversation.

Although there is a whole set of mechanisms for government consultation - whether it's a one-off exercise when you have a one in ten year review of a system or whether its ongoing, round-the-clock feedback processes - because they are totally dependent on traditional mechanisms, the outcome is they tend to function bilaterally.

So you might make a submission to an inquiry I am running, and I might respond to that submission, but someone down the road might be completely unaware of what's in your submission and vice versa, unaware of my response to your submission, and vice versa. And therefore you don't get the depth and richness of engagement that you get when have got genuine conversation going on - when the Government is one party in a room full of all different parties that can all engage with each other as well as the Government.

iTnews: What got you thinking about blogging as a potential solution?

Tanner: The old world example that got me thinking about this is a gym that I used to attend in Melbourne.

They have this cute little system, where there is a complaints and queries pad in a prominent spot in the weights room. You scribble down whatever - why is this machine broken, when are you going to get a new treadmill, whatever. And there is a space for staff responses at the bottom. You pin these notes up on the board. At any given time there are a dozen or fifteen of these things pinned up on the board, and even if you don't fill one out, you can idly just scan and scrutinise them.

So the process of interaction between users and staff - whether it is about what needs to be fixed or a thank you note for that matter, is in a sense public and involves everyone, rather than being bilateral.

That made me think - this is precisely what Web 2.0 technologies and blogging enables. You can actually have that conversation openly and publicly when everyone is in on the deal, rather than Government being a hub-and-spoke - a model where you have fifty different conversations with fifty different players, none of whom can hear the other conversations. That is what is driving my commitment to push this thing through.

iTnews: What challenges lie in setting up government blogs?

Tanner: There are a number of big challenges. One is resources. By definition, a deeper process of consultation and discussion means there has to be somebody there flying the flag on behalf of the Government, answering questions from the Government point of view.

Secondly and perhaps more significant is the issue of 'authority to speak'.

There is a very traditional structure with governments where there is a pyramid structure - the person at the top of the pyramid is the public face and makes the statements.

There are very good reasons for that of course. If you have fifty people purporting to speak on behalf of the Department of Finance, the chance they are all saying the same thing is not very high, and aside from the obvious political issues that raises, there are practical issues. If you're trying to find out what the Department's position is on a given issue, and you're confronted with half a dozen different versions, it makes it pretty hard for you to know - particularly if you're a business - making decisions, should I invest in this or that?

You want to know what the Government's position is. Half a dozen versions don't add up, and that's a problem.

So we are trying to working out a model where you don't end up with that problem but you also don't end up with Government participation in blogs being little more than a regurgitation of press releases.

They are the kinds of issues we are asking this taskforce to toss around.

Click here for Part One of iTnews' interview with Lindsay Tanner, discussing IT cost cutting within the Australian Government.


Exclusive: Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner (Part Two)
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  20%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1440

Vote