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Entries tagged "politics".

NSW Group Voting Tickets - 2010 Federal Election
2nd August 2010

The AEC has publish the group voting tickets for the Senate for the upcoming 2010 Federal Election. I didn't think the provided format was very usable (and I couldn't see the dataset in machine readable form), so here is the GVT for "the three main" parties with preferences listed in order for NSW. (It would take too long for me to do every party, but you can construct your own tables for the other parties from the AEC's published PDFs)


Number Surname Given name Party
1 FAULKNER John Labor
3 HUTCHINS Steve Labor
4 MURNAIN Anne Labor
5 SEATON Fiona Labor
6 McDERMOTT Hugh Labor
7 RHIANNON Lee The Greens
8 McILROY Keith The Greens
10 SWIFT Harriett The Greens
11 MORRISSEY Simone The Greens
12 KANAK Dominic Wy The Greens
13 DRUERY Glenn Liberal Democrats (LDP)
14 GABB Lucy Liberal Democrats (LDP)
15 STITT Peter Liberal Democrats (LDP)
16 ECKFORD Michael
17 STEVENS Criselee
18 STEFANAC Jennifer
19 COOLEY Tucky Tania
20 BROWN Ray Building Australia
21 O'DONNELL Michael Building Australia
22 GREEN Paul Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
23 PEEBLES Robyn Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
24 NILE Elaine Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
25 McCAFFREY Simon Thomas Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Australia
26 CULLEN Martin Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Australia
27 CARTER Marylou Carers Alliance
28 BUCKWALTER Maree Carers Alliance
29 BRYCE Ian Secular Party of Australia
30 WARREN Lyle Richard Secular Party of Australia
31 CLANCY Fiona Australian Democrats
32 MITCHELL Jen Australian Democrats
33 LEISHMAN Marianne Australian Sex Party
34 CAMPBELL Huw Australian Sex Party
35 ZIMMERMAN Larissa Australian Sex Party
36 HODGES Robert
37 FRIER Bob
39 SELBY Noel
40 BLOOM Nadia
44 BELGRAVE Leon Adrian
46 RICHARDSON Hamish Independent
47 HOOPER Norman H Joseph Independent
48 SCOTT-IRVING Stewart Independent
49 PAPE Bryan Independent
50 WHALAN Andrew Independent
51 BOURKE William
52 O'CONNOR Mark
53 BEAMS Nick Socialist Equality Party
54 ZABALA Gabriela Socialist Equality Party
55 KOUTALIANOS Bill The Climate Sceptics
56 BROWN Geoffrey The Climate Sceptics
57 MUIRHEAD Jim Gerard Shooters and Fishers
58 McGLASHAN Alistair David Shooters and Fishers
59 EVANS Rachel Socialist Alliance
60 ISKANDER Soubhi Socialist Alliance
61 BAS Wes Senator On-Line
62 ROACH Brianna Senator On-Line
63 SWANE Greg Family First
64 LAMB Phil Family First
65 THOMPSON Andy Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
66 FOSTER Roland Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
67 KERNOT Cheryl
68 CANT Simon
69 FIERRAVANTI-WELLS Concetta Liberal
70 HEFFERNAN William Liberal
71 NASH Fiona The Nationals
72 HUGHES Hollie Liberal
73 DENNIS Joe The Nationals
74 BILIC George Liberal
75 LAWLER Geoff Communist
76 KELLAWAY Brenda Anne Communist
77 BARKER David
79 HODGES Darrin
80 FOLKES Nick
81 BUTLER Robert H Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
82 McCAFFREY Ian David Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
83 WEBBER Andrew One Nation
84 BRETT John One Nation

Liberal/Nationals ("The Coalition")

Number Surname Given name Party
1 FIERRAVANTI-WELLS Concetta Liberal
2 HEFFERNAN William Liberal
3 NASH Fiona The Nationals
4 HUGHES Hollie Liberal
5 DENNIS Joe The Nationals
6 BILIC George Liberal
7 GREEN Paul Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
8 PEEBLES Robyn Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
9 NILE Elaine Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
10 SWANE Greg Family First
11 LAMB Phil Family First
12 McCAFFREY Simon Thomas Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Australia
13 CULLEN Martin Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Australia
14 MUIRHEAD Jim Gerard Shooters and Fishers
15 McGLASHAN Alistair David Shooters and Fishers
16 CARTER Marylou Carers Alliance
17 BUCKWALTER Maree Carers Alliance
18 THOMPSON Andy Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
19 FOSTER Roland Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
20 BROWN Ray Building Australia
21 O'DONNELL Michael Building Australia
22 CLANCY Fiona Australian Democrats
23 MITCHELL Jen Australian Democrats
24 DRUERY Glenn Liberal Democrats (LDP)
25 GABB Lucy Liberal Democrats (LDP)
26 STITT Peter Liberal Democrats (LDP)
27 KOUTALIANOS Bill The Climate Sceptics
28 BROWN Geoffrey The Climate Sceptics
32 SELBY Noel
33 BLOOM Nadia
35 BELGRAVE Leon Adrian
37 BOURKE William
38 O'CONNOR Mark
39 STEFANAC Jennifer
40 COOLEY Tucky Tania
41 ECKFORD Michael
42 STEVENS Criselee
43 PAPE Bryan Independent
44 SCOTT-IRVING Stewart Independent
45 WHALAN Andrew Independent
46 RICHARDSON Hamish Independent
47 HOOPER Norman H Joseph Independent
48 BAS Wes Senator On-Line
49 ROACH Brianna Senator On-Line
50 KERNOT Cheryl
51 CANT Simon
52 RHIANNON Lee The Greens
53 McILROY Keith The Greens
54 JEGATHEESWARAN Brami The Greens
55 SWIFT Harriett The Greens
56 MORRISSEY Simone The Greens
57 KANAK Dominic Wy The Greens
58 FAULKNER John Labor
60 HUTCHINS Steve Labor
61 MURNAIN Anne Labor
62 SEATON Fiona Labor
63 McDERMOTT Hugh Labor
64 BARKER David
66 HODGES Darrin
67 FOLKES Nick
68 HODGES Robert
69 FRIER Bob
70 LEISHMAN Marianne Australian Sex Party
71 CAMPBELL Huw Australian Sex Party
72 ZIMMERMAN Larissa Australian Sex Party
73 BRYCE Ian Secular Party of Australia
74 WARREN Lyle Richard Secular Party of Australia
75 BEAMS Nick Socialist Equality Party
76 ZABALA Gabriela Socialist Equality Party
77 EVANS Rachel Socialist Alliance
78 ISKANDER Soubhi Socialist Alliance
79 LAWLER Geoff Communist
80 KELLAWAY Brenda Anne Communist
81 BUTLER Robert H Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
82 McCAFFREY Ian David Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
83 WEBBER Andrew One Nation
84 BRETT John One Nation

The Greens

Number Surname Given name Party
1 RHIANNON Lee The Greens
2 McILROY Keith The Greens
4 SWIFT Harriett The Greens
5 MORRISSEY Simone The Greens
6 KANAK Dominic Wy The Greens
7 ECKFORD Michael
8 STEVENS Criselee
9 KERNOT Cheryl
10 CANT Simon
11 BRYCE Ian Secular Party of Australia
12 WARREN Lyle Richard Secular Party of Australia
13 EVANS Rachel Socialist Alliance
14 ISKANDER Soubhi Socialist Alliance
15 LAWLER Geoff Communist
16 KELLAWAY Brenda Anne Communist
17 CLANCY Fiona Australian Democrats
18 MITCHELL Jen Australian Democrats
19 LEISHMAN Marianne Australian Sex Party
20 CAMPBELL Huw Australian Sex Party
21 ZIMMERMAN Larissa Australian Sex Party
22 CARTER Marylou Carers Alliance
23 BUCKWALTER Maree Carers Alliance
26 STEFANAC Jennifer
27 COOLEY Tucky Tania
28 BAS Wes Senator On-Line
29 ROACH Brianna Senator On-Line
30 BOURKE William
31 O'CONNOR Mark
32 FAULKNER John Labor
34 HUTCHINS Steve Labor
35 MURNAIN Anne Labor
36 SEATON Fiona Labor
37 McDERMOTT Hugh Labor
38 SCOTT-IRVING Stewart Independent
40 SELBY Noel
41 BEAMS Nick Socialist Equality Party
42 ZABALA Gabriela Socialist Equality Party
43 PAPE Bryan Independent
44 RICHARDSON Hamish Independent
45 HOOPER Norman H Joseph Independent
46 WHALAN Andrew Independent
47 FIERRAVANTI-WELLS Concetta Liberal
48 HEFFERNAN William Liberal
49 NASH Fiona The Nationals
50 HUGHES Hollie Liberal
51 DENNIS Joe The Nationals
52 BILIC George Liberal
53 DRUERY Glenn Liberal Democrats (LDP)
54 GABB Lucy Liberal Democrats (LDP)
55 STITT Peter Liberal Democrats (LDP)
56 HODGES Robert
57 FRIER Bob
58 BLOOM Nadia
60 BELGRAVE Leon Adrian
62 BROWN Ray Building Australia
63 O'DONNELL Michael Building Australia
64 McCAFFREY Simon Thomas Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Australia
65 CULLEN Martin Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Australia
66 SWANE Greg Family First
67 LAMB Phil Family First
68 THOMPSON Andy Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
69 FOSTER Roland Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
70 BUTLER Robert H Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
71 McCAFFREY Ian David Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
72 KOUTALIANOS Bill The Climate Sceptics
73 BROWN Geoffrey The Climate Sceptics
74 MUIRHEAD Jim Gerard Shooters and Fishers
75 McGLASHAN Alistair David Shooters and Fishers
76 GREEN Paul Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
77 PEEBLES Robyn Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
78 NILE Elaine Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
79 HODGES Darrin
80 FOLKES Nick
81 BARKER David
83 WEBBER Andrew One Nation
84 BRETT John One Nation
Tags: politics.
A Look into the myschool.edu.au Data
7th February 2010

After overcoming a few problems I managed to write a scraper for the myschool.edu.au data. Unfortunately they choose to put data in HTML, so the scraping process may have led my data to have some unknown errors. I publish (see bottom) the scraped data as I believe that per the IceTV v Nine Network [2009] HCA 14 case, any data that my scraper produces as output from the HTML input is not subject to the copyright of the original HTML content (this also means that I cannot publish the HTML pages) and the Telstra Corporation Limited v Phone Directories Company Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 44 case, that the raw data that is scraped is not subject to copyright.

I wish I could bzip2 up all those HTML pages and give them to you just to save your download, because the myschool.edu.au site doesn't compress their pages when I tell them I accept gzip over HTTP, so it took up almost 2GB of quota to download all the HTML pages, oh well.

Some preliminary statistics from the data.

I could report a lot of stats like these above, all you need is a basic knowledge of SQL, but as much as I enjoy working out these stats I find graphs and graphics much more intuitive, so that is up next. Because of the vast dimensions to the data you can make all kinds of graphs so what would be best is a system to draw graphics dynamically which allows the user to decide what is graphed, but this takes more work so that is on the todo list.

I've also looked into doing some heatmaps using the geographical location of the schools, I could have used Google Maps, or I could use OpenStreetMap and libchamplain. Both have pros and cons... But for now I used Google Maps because their API is simple and I've always wanted to experiment with it, the downside is I'm not sure about the copyright of their maps and subsequently any derivative works. This image is just a test showing a dot for each school in the system, but its very easy to change the colour, size and opacity of the dots based on features of the school.

Schools in Sydney Map

Another test (some markers will be missing or in the wrong place, like the ones in NZ!),

[caption id="attachment_1023" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Google Earth map showing markers for Australian schools (though not completely accurate). (Copyright notices in image)"]Google Earth map showing markers for Australian schools (though not completely accurate).[/caption]

Source code? http://github.com/andrewharvey/myschool

Don't want to scrape and parse but want the raw data in a usable form? http://github.com/andrewharvey/myschool/tree/master/data_exports/

Extra thought: Currently the code uses Google's API for geting the geolocation of the school, I could use OpenStreetMap for this also, however it would take more investiagtion to determine what tools exist. At the moment all I know is I have an .osm file of Australia, but schools aren't just one dot, they are a polygon so unless I find some other tools which probably exist, I would need to (probably) just use one of the points in the polygon.

Or I could used the Geographic Names Register for NSW, but that is just for NSW... http://www.gnb.nsw.gov.au/__gnb/gnr.zip

Tags: computing, education, politics.
Law + Revision Control + Wiki
4th January 2010

What happens when you mix a service like AustLii with version control system like Git with a wiki like editing system, and deliver it to the people through the web?

Well I haven't tried, but it sounds like a good idea. You get a service that,

Tags: law, politics.
From the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network...
22nd October 2009

From the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, (Wed, 7 Oct 2009, Page 66 of the Transcript),

CHAIR—The committee looks forward to hearing from Professor Gans. Professor, as you are aware, the proceedings today are public. The evidence you are about to give is protected by parliamentary privilege. It is potentially unlawful and in contempt of the Senate process for anybody to attempt to interfere with evidence that would otherwise be given, as indeed it is to give potentially false or misleading evidence. Can you state your name, rank and serial number for the record, please. Prof. Gans—I am a professor of management information economics at Melbourne Business School—serial number whatever! CHAIR—007, perhaps! Do you wish to amend your submission?

Anyhow, further on in the proceedings Senator Macdonald says,

Senator IAN MACDONALD—Again, those are matters of opinion. I thought that the previous witness made a very good case, with respect. The thing that concerns me is that Telstra and Optus have services which are pretty good for most Australians apart from those of us who live in the regions. I cannot understand how you can spend an additional $43 billion and still compete with what is already there.

What! "...Telstra and Optus have services which are pretty good for most Australians..."? http://www.bigpond.com/internet/plans/adsl/plans-and-offers/ says ADSL2+ with a quota of 600MB (additional usage charged at $0.15/MB) for $59.95 a month, with a minimum cost over 12 months of $1267.80. Compare this with say Internode which for the same price gives 35 Gbytes, TPG for an extra 4 cents a month will get you 50GB peak + 50GB off peak (167 times the quota Telstra will give you), and iiNet will give you 10GB peak + 25GB off peak for the same price per month. Ignoring all those extras that come along with different contracts (eg. iiNet/Internode have a mirror of large amounts of software, technical support ladada...) (okay, maybe "most Australians" find that "Free network anti-virus and anti-spam security" more important than having a data quota 167 times larger, but not me) I, and I'm sure many other people would disagree that Telstra provides a service which is "pretty good for most Australians".

Tags: politics.
Finding the Second Reading of a Bill
8th September 2009

Say I know of a law (could be any law but I'll try to choose a recent one as the records don't go back all that far) and say its the FAIR WORK ACT 2009. I found this through AustLii, now I want to find the bill that this act was created from, as well as any bills that lead to amendments to this act. This information cannot be found in the Act itself. I could do a search on AustLii for the Act Name minus the year and the word Act, and add the word Bill, but because I don't know enough about parliamentary procedure I don't know if this is the rule and all acts must be named the same as the bill, or this is just something commonly done. Ideally there should be some references in the database that link bills to an act (if it has been passed).

Now that I have located a Bill I can read the bill on AustLii, but I've heard that there are these things called "First Reading", "Second Reading" and so on that happen in parliament that give the reasons for the introduction of a bill. I want to find that information. So I head over to openaustralia.org,


Because I'm not too familiar with parliamentary practice I don't know where these first and second readings fit in. So I do a search for "FAIR WORK BILL 2009" Second Reading".

[caption id="attachment_746" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="From the search results I manually look down the list to find the one that appears to be the second reading."]From the search results I manually look down the list to find the one that appears to be the second reading.[/caption]

I have to manually look down the list for one that appears to be the second reading. Sure there may be technical reasons for this which may explain this but at first glance it seems that debates that are the Second Reading of a Bill appear to end with ": Second Reading". Perhaps an advanced search could use this to determine if a debate is a Second Reading of a Bill or not. Looking at the XML data provided by OpenAustralia for that day you can see that the debate has a minor-heading of "Second Reading", so sorting and searching by this attribute shouldn't be too hard.

Admittedly I don't know enough about the way parliament works. Are these second readings mandatory or just customary?

Tags: law, politics.
Re: Government 2.0 Issues Paper
13th August 2009

I was going to answer all their questions, but after reading realised I haven't the time. So instead I'll repost it just because I can. Source: http://gov2.net.au/consultation/2009/07/23/towards-government-2-0-an-issues-paper-final/

Government 2.0 Issues Paper

How you should use this Issues Paper

We want to hear the arguments, information and stories that you have to tell us. The rest of this document is simply our way of helping you do that. It is not a template that you should feel obliged to follow, though we hope that this paper helps. There may be questions you wish to address that are not here, just as there may be questions we have raised you do not wish to address.

Also, please note, our focus in this Issues Paper is on your making a written submission. You can find details about how to make a submission at Appendix 1. We also offer the option to make online submissions through our Consultation page at http://gov2.net.au/consultation.

As you may be aware, there are other channels by which you can communicate with us. You can comment on our blog at http://gov2.net.au and members of both the Taskforce and its secretariat are attending various conferences and other activities where Government 2.0 will be discussed. You are welcome to attend.

You can provide the Taskforce with feedback at any time, for instance through our blog, but we cannot promise to consider submissions on this paper which we receive after start of business Monday 24 August 2009.

The Taskforce would like to thank those people, both from Australia and offshore, who contributed to this Issues Paper both by making comments on our blog and by making specific comments on this Issues Paper when it was issued in ‘Beta’ format a few days before finalisation.

Our Job

The Taskforce is charged with finding ways of accelerating the development of Government 2.0 to help government consult, and where possible actively collaborate with the community, to open up government and to maximise access to publicly funded information through the use of Web 2.0 techniques. We will do this with recommendations for government policy and also by funding projects which offer promise in accelerating the coming of Government 2.0.

The Taskforce will be looking at the use of Web 2.0 both within government as well as in the government/public interface.

The Terms of Reference of the Taskforce are at Appendix 2.

Why Government 2.0?

The aim of Government 2.0 is to make government information more accessible and useable, to make government more consultative, participatory and transparent, to build a culture of online innovation, and to promote collaboration across agencies in online and information initiatives.

There are obvious benefits in moving in this direction to support, complement and strengthen existing engagement and consultation practices. Online engagement means citizens should be able to collaborate more readily with government and each other in developing and considering new policy ideas. It can give citizens greater insight into the policy making process and greater appreciation of the complexities of policy decisions. It makes possible an ongoing conversation amongst all who wish to participate in considering the effectiveness of existing government programs, laws and regulations and the scope for improvement. Government can use collaborative technologies to draw on the skills, knowledge and resources of the general community when developing policies or delivering services. Government agencies can receive feedback more rapidly, from more people at less cost. This in turn provides an opportunity for government to improve the way it delivers services to citizens.

How will we achieve Government 2.0?

Governments around the world and certainly our own governments have been relatively good at seizing many of the opportunities provided in the first incarnation of the internet, now often called Web 1.0, that is the use of the internet as a platform to distribute public material and solicit information from stakeholders by way of online ‘feedback forms’. Indeed in 2008 the internet became the most common way citizens last made contact with government .

However a range of possibilities are emerging on the internet which have been dubbed Web 2.0. The revolutionary potential of Web 2.0 is apparent in websites like Google, Flickr, Facebook and Wikipedia. The central theme of Web 2.0 is moving away from point to point communications and towards many to many communication and collaboration.

There is a buzz of Web 2.0 in the community and amongst enthusiasts who post to blogs and sites like Flickr and join online discussions.

Governments across Australia have taken some interest in the applications of Web 2.0 to government. However compared with the speed of adoption of Web 2.0 tools and modes of operating in some quarters, progress in embracing Web 2.0 within government has been modest.

A comment from our Beta consultation:

This comes down to a fundamental view of what Government is for.

If one is of the view that the purpose of Government is to shape society into some kind of ideal, where everyone is on the same page working to some kind of utopian goal, then Web2.0 has very little to offer. In that world view, the Government has already worked out what it’s going to do and the job of the citizen is to either help it get there (usually by means of constructive “submissions”, but only when “consulted”) or get out of the way and let the Government do its thing.

If one is of the view that the role of the Government is to act as a kind of social lubricant to enable citizens to employ their own ideals in furtherance of their own goals, then that’s where Web2.0 is strong. Enabling that outcome requires the Government to be part of the conversation, so that it can see where obstacles are and apply its resources appropriately to smoothing the way for citizens without creating more problems than it solves. Government can be a remarkably blunt instrument, which needs to be wielded with care.

I suspect that the slowness of Web2.0 adoption comes from the fact that those of us who support this initiative are in the latter mindset, while much of the Government and its accompanying bureaucracy are in the former mindset. Resolving this schism is, IMHO, one of the paramount challenges of Government 2.0.

Mark Newton

Key Questions

On public sector information

How can we build a culture within government which favours the disclosure of public sector information?

What government information should be more freely available and what might be made of it?

On digital engagement

What are the major obstacles to fostering a culture of online engagement within government and how can they be tackled?

How can government capture the imagination of citizens to encourage participation in policy development and collaboration between citizens and government?

A comment from our Beta consultation:

The primary obstacles that emerge in our research on this are very clear, they include:

i) there is an inherent culture of risk aversion within government;

ii) failing to integrate online engagement fully into the policy cycle means that people see little point in becoming engaged;

iii) within government, engagement happens at too low a level; people want to see senior policy officials and ministers involved before they believe it has value; and

iv) using the wrong kind of engagement tool; it’s not about fashion, it’s about choosing the right tool for the policy stage and audience.

Andy Williamson


A number of reviews and processes have pointed to the importance of greater dissemination and reuse of public sector information and greater online engagement with citizens/between governments/between governments and citizens. At the Australian Government level, for example, these include the Cutler Review into Innovation , and the Gershon Review into ICT use and management . Some State governments have also been making important strides. Most recently the Victorian Government has released its Report of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee on the Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data, Parliamentary Paper No. 198 Session 2006-2009, June 2009.

Proposed legislative change, including proposals for the establishment of an Office of the Information Commissioner and amendments to Freedom of Information legislation to impose a publication scheme on all agencies underpin an agenda of greater public access to government information.

The proposed Office of the Information Commissioner will incorporate the existing Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Handling privacy well is important to generating the trust and confidence in the community necessary to optimise community engagement in Web 2.0 initiatives.

Many government agencies are currently involved in aspects of information policy development. Many are also exploring the use of new tools and techniques to improve the way they work. The Taskforce seeks to build on this work and to accelerate this process of change to allow more open access to, and use of, the information created and/or funded by government. Equally important, the Taskforce will explore the issue of effective consultation, engagement and collaboration with citizens. This work will inform the framework for an Information Policy that can be applied across the Australian Government.

In this paper we elaborate on issues relating to public sector information. We have covered these at greater length than other issues under reference because there has been greater policy development in this area compared with innovation and online engagement. The relatively smaller space devoted to the latter themes in this Issues Paper does not signal that we view them as being of lesser importance.

OECD Principles for public sector information

In April 2008 the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Council, adopted the Recommendation of the OECD Council for enhanced access and more effective use of public sector information. (Australia is a member of the OECD and was a participant in and a signatory to the Recommendation.) It recommends that member countries “in establishing or reviewing their policies regarding access and use of public sector information…take due account of and implement the following principles, which provide a general framework for the wider and more effective use of public sector information and content and the generation of new uses from it.”

The Taskforce acknowledges these principles and intends to use them as a starting point for that part of our work relating to public sector information. Our focus then becomes how we realise those principles as fully as possible in the practical operations of government.

1. Openness. Maximising the availability of public sector information for use and re-use based upon presumption of openness as the default rule to facilitate access and re-use. Developing a regime of access principles or assuming openness in public sector information as a default rule wherever possible no matter what the model of funding is for the development and maintenance of the information. Defining grounds of refusal or limitations, such as for protection of national security interests, personal privacy, preservation of private interests for example where protected by copyright, or the application of national access legislation and rules.

2. Access and transparent conditions for re-use. Encouraging broad non-discriminatory competitive access and conditions for re-use of public sector information, eliminating exclusive arrangements, and removing unnecessary restrictions on the ways in which it can be accessed, used, re-used, combined or shared, so that in principle all accessible information would be open to re-use by all. Improving access to information over the Internet and in electronic form. Making available and developing automated on-line licensing systems covering re-use in those cases where licensing is applied, taking into account the copyright principle below.

3. Asset lists. Strengthening awareness of what public sector information is available for access and re-use. This could take the form of information asset lists and inventories, preferably published on-line, as well as clear presentation of conditions to access and re-use at access points to the information.

4. Quality. Ensuring methodical data collection and curation practices to enhance quality and reliability including through cooperation of various government bodies involved in the creation, collection, processing, storing and distribution of public sector information.

5. Integrity. Maximising the integrity and availability of information through the use of best practices in information management. Developing and implementing appropriate safeguards to protect information from unauthorised modification or from intentional or unintentional denial of authorised access to information.

6. New technologies and long-term preservation. Improving interoperable archiving, search and retrieval technologies and related research including research on improving access and availability of public sector information in multiple languages, and ensuring development of the necessary related skills. Addressing technological obsolescence and challenges of long term preservation and access. Finding new ways for the digitisation of existing public sector information and content, the development of born-digital public sector information products and data, and the implementation of cultural digitisation projects (public broadcasters, digital libraries, museums, etc.) where market mechanisms do not foster effective digitisation.

7. Copyright. Intellectual property rights should be respected. There is a wide range of ways to deal with copyrights on public sector information, ranging from governments or private entities holding copyrights, to public sector information being copyright-free. Exercising copyright in ways that facilitate re-use (including waiving copyright and creating mechanisms that facilitate waiving of copyright where copyright owners are willing and able to do so, and developing mechanisms to deal with orphan works), and where copyright holders are in agreement, developing simple mechanisms to encourage wider access and use (including simple and effective licensing arrangements), and encouraging institutions and government agencies that fund works from outside sources to find ways to make these works widely accessible to the public.

8. Pricing. When public sector information is not provided free of charge, pricing public sector information transparently and consistently within and, as far as possible, across different public sector organisations so that it facilitates access and re-use and ensures competition. Where possible, costs charged to any user should not exceed marginal costs of maintenance and distribution, and in special cases extra costs for example of digitisation. Basing any higher pricing on clearly expressed policy grounds.

9. Competition. Ensuring that pricing strategies take into account considerations of unfair competition in situations where both public and business users provide value added services. Pursuing competitive neutrality, equality and timeliness of access where there is potential for cross-subsidisation from other government monopoly activities or reduced charges on government activities. Requiring public bodies to treat their own downstream/value-added activities on the same basis as their competitors for comparable purposes, including pricing. Particular attention should be paid to single sources of information resources. Promoting non-exclusive arrangements for disseminating information so that public sector information is open to all possible users and re-users on non-exclusive terms.

10. Redress mechanisms: Providing appropriate transparent complaints and appeals processes.

11. Public private partnerships. Facilitating public-private partnerships where appropriate and feasible in making public sector information available, for example by finding creative ways to finance the costs of digitisation, while increasing access and re-use rights of third parties.

12. International access and use. Seeking greater consistency in access regimes and administration to facilitate cross-border use and implementing other measures to improve cross-border interoperability, including in situations where there have been restrictions on non-public users. Supporting international co-operation and co-ordination for commercial re-use and non-commercial use. Avoiding fragmentation and promote greater interoperability and facilitate sharing and comparisons of national and international datasets. Striving for interoperability and compatible and widely used common formats.

13. Best practices. Encouraging the wide sharing of best practices and exchange of information on enhanced implementation, educating users and re-users, building institutional capacity and practical measures for promoting re-use, cost and pricing models, copyright handling, monitoring performance and compliance, and their wider impacts on innovation, entrepreneurship, economic growth and social effects.

Structure of paper

The remainder of this paper discusses OECD principles and additional principles as they relate to online innovation and engagement.

•    Principles for openness and access (OECD principles 1-3, 6, 10)

•    Principles for quality and integrity of information (OECD Principles 4 and 5.)

•    Principles to maximise efficiency in production and distribution of information (OECD principles 7-9, 11-13)

•    Maximising the potential of Government 2.0

Principles for openness and access

Open access to public sector information is generally agreed to be beneficial to our economy and society and to be the preferred approach. By openness and access, we refer to the making available of appropriate categories of public sector information on terms and in formats that permit and enable use and reuse of that information by any member of the public. However, we recognise that there are limits to this principle of open access, namely to respect privacy, confidentiality, security and possibly cost recovery concerns.

For the purposes of this issues paper public sector information is taken to exclude personal information that would not be available for publication or reuse under Australian privacy laws, or other legislation. It might include such information if it were adequately transformed to address any concern, for instance by anonymising it.

Another issue is how widely policies to optimise the openness of public sector information should apply across government. The recent Victorian Parliamentary inquiry proposed that public sector information policy should apply to government departments only, at least for an initial period, although it suggested that it may be appropriate to expand this coverage over time. We would be interested to hear arguments for and against restrictive and more expansive application of policies to optimise the openness of public sector information and, where a broader definition is supported, how this might relate to information that is commercially sensitive.

Question 1: How widely should policy to optimise the openness of public sector information be applied? Should it be applied beyond government departments and, if so, to which bodies, for instance government business enterprises or statutory authorities?

Openness (OECD principle 1)

The OECD recommends that the presumption of openness should be the default rule, and this has been backed by recent moves in the Australian Government. Proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) aim to make it easier to obtain documents under FOI legislation, in part by emphasising the presumption of openness. FOI Act changes also aim to encourage the release of information through a publication scheme and otherwise outside that Act. Proposed changes to the Archives Act 1983 bring forward the time at which government records come available under that Act from 30 to 20 years. These changes are backed by the proposed creation of an Information Commissioner and Freedom of Information Commissioner.

These legislative changes are a significant move in the direction of accessibility of government information.

One of the major barriers to achieving greater accessibility has been the lack of a pro-disclosure culture within government. Privacy, national security and confidentiality issues will properly prevent the release of some information, but this should not inhibit the release of other non-sensitive government information.

Question 2: What are the ways in which we build a culture within government which favours the disclosure of public sector information? What specific barriers exist that would restrict or complicate this and how should they be dealt with?

Question 3: What government information would you like to see made more freely available?

Question 4: What are the possible privacy, security, confidentiality or other implications that might arise in making public sector information available? What options are there for mitigating any potential risks?

A comment from our Beta consultation:

I believe that Question 2 is one of the most important problems we face in adoption of this goal. Broad cultural change is required across government that encourages innovation whilst providing a safety-net for those who try and fail. Leadership from the highest levels and generational change is required to make this a reality. The key is not to expect too much too soon as transparency is a terrifying concept for most government agencies and their officers.

All of the technical, legal and logistical problems will be solvable, but worthless without real cultural change at all levels of government.

David Heacock

Access and transparent conditions for re-use (OECD principle 2)

Government agencies currently make a large amount of information available on their websites, and much more could be made available freely on the internet. However, technological, copyright and licensing issues tend to restrict the way that this information can be made available and used by the public.

Making government information accessible online, particularly in standard formats such as XML, CSV, ODF, RDF or RDFa etc allows those outside government, whether they are citizens, firms or third sector organisations, to combine, present and analyse this information in different ways, creating both public and private benefits.

Question 5: What is needed to make the large volume of public sector information (a) searchable and (b) useable? And in each case, what do we do about legacy information in agencies? How might the licensing of on-line information be improved to facilitate greater re-use where appropriate?

The Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is a series of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards that provides a framework to describe information about data. This information is called metadata. Providing sets of raw data without accompanying context may limit the ability of people to meaningfully re-use any information provided. For example, what does the data element ‘60’ represent? Is it someone’s age? A speed limit? When was the information collected? By whom? What are the units of measurement?

Providing metadata in a standardised format also facilitates a precise search. For example, ‘What are the Commonwealth import duties for a lathe purchased from Germany?’

In Australia the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS) Metadata Standard (AS 5044) has been endorsed by all Australian Governments as the standard for describing government resources (information and services) to support their discovery in a Web environment. AGLS is based on and extends the international resource discovery metadata standard, the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. AGLS metadata can be expressed using RDF (Resource Description Framework) syntax and modelling, which is one of the recommendations of the Semantic Web.

There are other relevant metadata standards as well for things like rights management, geospatial data, recordkeeping, digital preservation, etc, all of which can potentially be useful in a semantic web environment, but discoverability is the key requirement for which you need standardised metadata for the Semantic Web to work.

There are of course costs associated with marking up data with semantic annotations. These costs increase with the degree of metadata provided for each element. A difficult-to-answer issue what be at what point do the costs of providing extra information exceed the benefits?

Ensuring discoverability - asset lists (OECD principle 3)

How could information be made more accessible?

Question 6: How does government ensure that people, business, industry and other potential users of government information know about, and can readily find, information they may want to use, for example, the use of a consolidated directory or repository for public sector information?

New technologies and long-term preservation (OECD principle 6)

Publication in proprietary formats can represent a barrier to participation for citizens if the owner of intellectual property in the standard refuses to make it freely available. In addition, a requirement for government to maintain information in multiple formats represents a cost to government.

Some national and sub-national governments have mandated that all information must be accessible and stored in formats that are publicly open standards. Thus such formats like Open Document Formats (ODF) have been preferred to proprietary formats such as DOC.

Question 7: Should governments mandate that information should be only kept and stored in open and publicly documented standards? Could such a stipulation raise costs or reduce flexibility?

It should be possible to share the benefits and knowledge gained from online and information initiatives across government. However, this largely depends on the interoperability of information and business architectures between government agencies and between them and their users.

Interoperability in turn depends on a range of factors including the adoption of standards and definitions for recording information to enable it to be shared.

Question 8: What approaches should the Government use to allow information to be easily shared?

In addition, there are many online and information initiatives being trialled across government agencies. A variety of online tools, technologies and platforms are being tested and used. In the Web 2.0 sphere, these include the use by agencies of blogs, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook.

Some additional principles outlined in an exploration of the issues relating to the use of Web 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly include the following:

•    Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely coupled systems

•    Cooperate, Don’t Control

•    Design for hackability and remixability

•    Network Effects by Default

•    The Perpetual Beta

Question 9: How can the initiatives and ideas of agencies be harnessed for the benefit of agencies across government? How can duplication of effort be avoided?


The US Government has recently established the Data.gov website to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

Data.gov includes searchable data catalogues providing access to data in three ways: through the "raw" data catalogue, the tool catalogue and the geo-data catalogue. The raw data and the Geo-data catalogues are provided in CSV, XML, KML or SHP formats. The Tools Catalogue includes pre-packaged data sets such as look-up tables.

The stated goal of Data.gov is to improve access to Federal data and expand creative use of those data beyond the walls of government by encouraging innovative ideas (e.g., web applications). Another objective is to make government more transparent by creating an unprecedented level of openness.

Redress mechanisms (OECD principle 10)

To ensure these principles are implemented sensibly we need effective mechanisms for hearing complaints about and redressing government’s inaction in the release of information.

Conversely, making government information available online may increase the risk of unintentional or inappropriate release of information that may damage an individual or business. If that information is then re-used, it may lead to proliferation of the harm.

Formal complaints and appeals processes already apply across the Australian Government. Depending on the specific circumstances, a person has redress, for example, to appeal mechanisms in the FOI Act, the complaints mechanisms in the Ombudsman Act 1976 or Privacy Act 1988, or judicial mechanisms in the Administration Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.

Question 10: Are these complaints and appeals processes sufficient? Are additional processes needed for government as it engages in the Web 2.0 world?

Principles for quality and integrity of information

Quality and integrity (OECD principles 4 and 5)

All government agencies are engaged in the creation and collection of information and government’s online engagement with citizens is subject to the same information laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Archives Act 1983 and the Privacy Act 1988, as are the records of other interactions with citizens. The fundamental importance of good recordkeeping to ensure transparent and accountable government has been widely recognised, as has the part played by failures in recordkeeping in many inquiries and audit reports.

Question 11: What should government do to foster a culture of compliance with information and records management policies and best practice?

Question 12: What recordkeeping challenges are posed by both the re-use of government information, and in the mechanisms of development of government policy and practice through interactive citizen engagement?

There is rich potential in this area for perverse outcomes. Agencies frequently cite concerns about the integrity of their information as a reason for their reluctance to release it. And the perfect can be the enemy of the good. On the one hand mandating the release of information might be one way of ensuring that agencies have an incentive to maintain its quality and integrity. On the other hand the release of some information (with an appropriate disclaimer as to quality) may often, but not necessarily always, be better than not releasing it at all.

Question 13: How does government manage the costs and risks of publication of inaccurate information?

An important aspect of quality (and integrity) is the provision of information (‘metadata’) that describes the quality of information, so that users can determine whether it is ‘fit for purpose’ in terms of their proposed use of the information. For example, knowing the source of the information, the checks the information has been subject to, and any other factors that might affect accuracy, can help users know how the information might be used appropriately and equally important, the hazards in using it improperly.

Users may be able to interact with government information providers to better understand the information (and therefore increase the likelihood that the information will be used appropriately) or to express concerns about aspects of the information.

Citizens expect government information to be of high quality and integrity but will also have an expectation of the responsiveness of government to deliver information.


Timeliness is a particularly important matter. From at least the late 1970s the ICT revolution has been driven by firms that have made felicitous tradeoffs between the quality of their offering and getting their product to market. Too early and the market could turn against a product for the number of bugs and other errors which frustrate users. Too late and the market has moved on.

This was the case even before ‘Web 1.0’ as summarised in Steve Jobs arresting comment “True genius ships”. But it is particularly so in the world of Web 2.0 where it is now quite normal to provide users with comprehensive access to beta products and indeed to leave them designated as beta products for many years. Gmail only recently moved out of beta after five years as a mainstream consumer product.

The issue raises its head particularly in the area of data where government agencies delay publication to ensure data integrity anxious either from a natural desire to do their job properly, or to minimise risk, or to meet standards internally mandated within government. In the meantime, as we saw in the case of the Victorian fires, valuable information however imperfect goes unpublished.

Question 14: What criteria might we adopt in ensuring that agencies make data available in a reasonable time-frame? (And how might we define a “reasonable time-frame”?)

Question 15: It often takes quite some time to compile and create consistent and reliable data – especially for large data sets. When is it appropriate to release limited and possibly less accurate data and where is it appropriate to wait for higher quality and more extensive data? Where various principles are in some tension with each other, for instance quality and cost or timeliness, how should trade-offs be made?

The National Toilet Map

As part of the National Continence Management Strategy, the Australian Government funded the development of the National Toilet Map website . The website shows the location of more than 14,000 public and private public toilet facilities across Australia. Details can also be found along major travel routes and for shorter journeys as well. Useful information is provided about each toilet, such as location, opening hours, availability of baby change rooms, accessibility for people with disabilities and the details of other nearby toilets.

A number of organisations, commercial and not-for-profit, large and small, have requested access to the data in order to provide a range of innovative services. To date, such access has not been granted. The wider availability of this information, through sources other than the National Toilet Map website, appears to promote the objectives of the National Continence Management Strategy and is consistent with the OECD principles enunciated earlier in this Issues Paper.

Principles to maximise efficiency in production and distribution of information

Intellectual property (OECD principle 7)

It is hoped that, through strategic management of copyright and new Web 2.0 licensing tools like Creative Commons and similar open licensing mechanisms for database material, we can more easily provide the necessary permission to promote better access to and reuse of public sector information. In the short term this means using current copyright law and practice to do a better job and in the longer term assessing the appropriateness of existing copyright law for a digital environment and any changes that should be made to address problems.

Question 16: What can we do to better promote and co-ordinate initiatives in this area? How can we draw key departments together?

Question 17: What sort of public sector information should be released under what form of copyright license? When should government continue to utilise its intellectual property rights?

Apps for Democracy Competition

The 2008 Apps for Democracy competition was an initiative of the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. The competition involved members of the public making an application using data from the 277 datasets made available by the District of Columbia.

There was a total of $US20,000 in prize money on offer, spread over 60 cash prizes ranging from $US100 to $US2000. The competition ran for 30 days and received 47 entries including web, Facebook and iPhone applications. Entries were divided into two categories: entries by professional agencies, and “indie” entries by individuals and groups of individuals.

Entries included a large number of geospatial mash-up applications making use of available datasets. The competition was viewed as an unqualified success by the D.C. government, as it cost $US50,000 to run, but provided a claimed $US2.6 million in value to the city through the created applications.

Government is subject to additional obligations which seek to ensure that all levels of our community are able to access its services, whether online or offline. For online engagement, government must consider those citizens who are excluded for various reasons, e.g. lack of access to technology, disability, health barriers, lack of computer-literacy, lack of English, lack of literacy, etc. Many of these issues are currently not adequately addressed by commercially available and popular online platforms.

Pricing and Competition (OECD principles 8-9) There is currently a mixed approach across government to the pricing of information. In the electronic world, the marginal costs of providing information are lower than in a paper-based environment, which could suggest that different pricing approaches might be appropriate. Furthermore, information is often considered as a ‘public good’, which also might impact on thinking about appropriate pricing policies.

Question 18: When should agencies charge for access to information? Should agencies charge when they are providing value-added services? What might constitute ‘value added services’ (eg customisation of information)? In what circumstances should agencies be able to recover the costs of obtaining the information or providing access? A common model in the private sector is ‘freemium’ distribution whereby many, often most, users are supplied with some product or service for free whilst others pay for use in large scale commercial enterprise (for instance AVG anti-virus) or for some premium product (for instance Word Web). Are there similar models for public sector information and/or do they merit further consideration?

A comment from our Beta consultation:

Pricing should also take into account the economic value of information if released.

There are many cases where there is significant positive economic or social value in making data freely available – such as the sharing of emergency data between government agencies (which currently is often costed at a level that discourages usage and therefore reduces the effectiveness of emergency responses).

Charging for maintenance and distribution costs can cost significantly more in lost economic or social benefit than it achieves in cost recovery.

Craig Thomler

Public private partnerships (OECD principle 11) Public-private partnerships might provide a way to make public sector information more readily available, for example by financing the costs of digitisation.

Question 19: How can government take advantage of public private partnerships to increase access to public sector information without unduly constraining opportunities for third parties to use and reuse the information?

International access and use (OECD principle 12) Many government agencies are involved in cooperative international programs and liaison. There are advantages to government in guiding interoperability and compatibility in dataset formats so as to ensure the most efficient and effective use of information.

Question 20: What international activities relevant to this Taskforce should the Taskforce be considering and what needs to be done to improve cross-border use and interoperability of information?

Best practice (OECD principle 13)

Question 21: How can best practice be facilitated, identified, rewarded, and further propagated?

Maximising the potential of Government 2.0

Fostering more consultative and collaborative online engagement in Government

There are obvious benefits to government in using collaborative technologies to draw on the skills, knowledge and resources of the general community when developing policies or delivering services. In many situations, much of the expertise, experience and deep knowledge that governments need to make good decisions about increasingly complex or ‘wicked’ problems exists outside government. New possibilities are emerging to link highly distributed networks of knowledge and expertise quickly and securely to focus on shared opportunities or problems to be solved.

In harnessing the opportunities arising from Web 2.0 technologies there is a potential for individuals to hesitate or avoid contributing where they sense that the technology isn’t ‘safe’. For example, people may fear that information about them will fall out of their control or they may avoid situations where they have to fully identify themselves before engaging with collaborative technologies. In this regard, embedding good privacy practices into collaborative technologies will play an important role in garnering the trust and confidence of individuals who wish to participate.

But beyond that, online engagement creates at least the potential to ‘democratise’ public administration and policy development by offering a much richer mix of spaces in which people can talk, listen, debate, argue and contribute their ideas and aspirations to the public conversation.

Moderated online engagement offers the potential for people to learn from each other and to constructively find common ground.

Question 22: Have you engaged with the Australian government via a Web 2.0 channel? Which one/s? If so, why and what was your experience? If not, why not? What can be improved?

Go to where the people are

A major finding of the UK Power of Information reports is that Government consultation efforts can be greatly enhanced by consulting with existing interest groups in their online communities, such as netmums.com. A similar approach involves employing social networks and existing forums and blogs to target a different audience than would normally respond to a traditional government consultation. In Australia a recent example of this was the use of the Open Forum blog by Father Frank Brennan , the Chair of the Human Rights Consultative Committee to engage netizens on questions relating to the consultation.

Different combinations of public interaction methods suit different requirements and different audiences.

Increasingly agencies are combining traditional modes of consultation with Web 2.0 features and applications to enhance the visibility, promotion and interactivity of Government online consultation efforts. These include:

•    promoting a consultation on social networks such as Facebook

•    blogs

•    using videos either hosted on the consultation site or on a third-party site such as YouTube

•    including RSS feeds on the consultation site.

A comment from our Beta consultation:

Having responded to one consultation, a user may be more likely to respond to another consultation.  A related consultation should be easily visible at the point of completion or commencement of a user’s response.

“Like this consultation?  If you’re interested, we’d also like your feedback on consultation X!”

Gordon Grace


The benefits of online engagement will be realised best if as wide a range of citizens as possible are involved. However, some people may be uncomfortable with this type of interaction with government.

Question 23: How can government capture the imagination of citizens to encourage participation in policy development and collaboration between citizens and government?

Question 24: What sort of privacy issues might dissuade individuals from engaging with government via collaborative technologies? What sort of steps can we take to ensure that personal information is used appropriately? What options are there for mitigating any potential privacy risks?

Governments have generally mandated minimum accessibility standards which can create obstacles to using some of the leading Web 2.0 platforms where they do not conform with those standards.

Question 25: How can government make it easier for people to engage on policy and other issues and make sure the opportunities are as open and accessible as possible?

Question 26: What trade-offs must be considered between government using commercially available and popular online platforms and ensuring inclusive participation with all members of society and how should those tradeoffs be made?


It is significant that the Government is in the process of introducing legislation that proposes to incorporate the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, together with a Freedom of Information Commissioner, in a proposed Office of the Information Commissioner.  These initiatives illustrate the complex relationship and tension between protecting the privacy of individuals and opening access to public sector information.

A great deal of public sector information (PSI) is not on its face “personal information” as defined in the Privacy Act 1988.  On the other hand there can still be privacy issues or risks associated with open access to PSI.  Information from which only name and address has been removed, may still fall under the definition of “personal information,” as an individual’s identity may still be reasonably ascertainable from the information.

Re-identification of personal information is usually context-sensitive.  An organisation’s capacity to re-identify data may depend critically on its particular resources, or changing priorities.  Factors which may impact on the capacity for data to be re-identified include available data, new technologies, resources, and social or political imperatives for access to new or different types of data.  Combining unrelated datasets, now or in the future, may create the environment for more intrusive profiling, data-linking or data-matching of individuals’ personal information.

There are also privacy risks and issues relating to digital engagement, particularly around moderation, consent to publish and anonymity. For example, in respect to post-moderation, there is the risk that a participant may identify and provide information about another individual, which is published without that individual’s knowledge or consent.  This may constitute a breach of privacy by the relevant agency and provide grounds for a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner by the individual whose personal information has been disclosed.  This risk is not different in kind to existing risks, but the immediacy and ubiquity of the internet increases its likelihood considerably.

Online engagement challenges for Government

Australian Government efforts in online engagement have been crafted to comply with the Australian Public Service values, set out in section 10 of the Public Service Act 1999. These require that public servants to act in an apolitical, impartial and professional way.

The Australian Public Service Commission also recently released interim protocols for online media participation by public servants . There are a number of other legislative restrictions on what information can be disclosed by public servants. This has an impact on how free government agencies and public servants are to experiment with online consultation, since agency websites must be impartial and apolitical. This may affect the extent to which they can enter into meaningful discussion with the public.

Question 27: How can public servants comply with the APS values and other protocols whilst still participating in online engagement? Should existing rules including legislation be changed and/or adapted to facilitate greater online engagement?

Moderation Government collaborative websites such as blogs generally require moderation. This involves time and labour cost. Third-party moderation tools and services are available. The process of moderation should be transparent, with the principles and parameters of the editorial control specified. This is good practice in all online jurisdictions.

Online consultations seeking input from the public can be at risk of agenda hijacking and the derailment of discussion although other forms of engagement are not immune from such possibilities. Thus for instance when the Obama Administration held online consultations on what the new Administration’s new priorities should be, the legalisation of marijuana was voted the most important priority. More recently one of the most prominent priorities has been the release of Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

While it is appropriate that views about which people feel strongly are aired, it is also important for there to be an ability to ‘agree to disagree’ and get on with the process of using the strengths of online engagement to improve policy development without being diverted by the attention given to symbolic issues or to lowest common denominators in policy.

Question 28: How does government provide sufficient room for personal debate and passionate dissent but still ensure appropriate levels of moderation in online forums? Should moderation be ‘outsourced’ and if so in what circumstances and how? How might volunteers from the commenting community be selected to moderate?

A comment from our Beta consultation:

… If legalization of marijuana comes out of Obama’s online consultations, perhaps he should have a legalization-of-marijuana policy that stakes out a position on the issue.  Personally I couldn’t care less, but if it’s an issue that some folks think is important enough to get organized over, why shouldn’t it be on the agenda?  Would it hurt to put out a position paper?

Mark Newton

Fostering a culture of online innovation within government

New collaborative technologies are emerging all the time. These new technologies can improve the efficiencies of Government internally and can also alter and (hopefully) improve external-facing relations, particularly government-citizen engagement.

Innovation challenges for Government

Governments face responsibilities that are not always shared by the private sector or members of the broader community. Their conduct is expected to be above reproach. They are expected to be a trustworthy source of information and/or advice and they face a number of self-imposed obligations to ensure access and equity. Recognising this, there are a number of potential challenges to Government making effective use of these new collaborative technologies:

•    access to many of these platforms may be blocked or considerably constrained for public service officials

•     the potential of these tools may conflict, in real or imagined ways, with the rules, policies and practices that apply to the public service

•     the greater immediacy, transparency, accountability and informality they introduce into our communications may be directly contrary to the prevailing government practice

•    public servants may be concerned about being ‘overwhelmed’ by the potential volume of activity that might arise from the new collaborative technologies, particularly when there is an expectation that governments will respond to all issues raised by citizens

•    awareness of the new technologies and the opportunities that they offer may delay their adoption.

The use by government of collaborative platforms is a relatively new phenomenon and may require a rethink of applicable rules, policies and practices. It also requires the development of social and online norms in government-citizen relations. As one commentator noted in discussion about one blogging effort by the Australian Government:

"It’s probably worth remembering: as untried as government consultation blogs are at the federal level in Australia, so too are citizens unused to being able to engage with their government in this way. They may be new at it, but so are we - and both sides still have a lot to learn about the other.”

Cultural barriers may constrain the adoption of collaborative tools and the newness of the approach may generate trepidation and dissuade uptake within the public sector.

Question 29: What are the barriers to fostering a culture of online innovation within government? Which of those barriers should be maintained in any Government 2.0 initiatives? Which of those barriers should be removed? How should this be achieved? What different norms can or should apply to Government 2.0 efforts?

Question 30: To what extent can government assist the uptake of Government 2.0 by centrally providing standard business management guidance and tools to avoid agencies having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when considering their own online engagement guidelines?

Question 31: How can government engage with individuals and stakeholders to support the development of innovative policies, programs, practices and service delivery? Are there good examples of where this is happening?

For profit firms often use the rich data they harvest from their existing information assets and their ongoing presence on the web to guide their own innovation, measuring consumer reactions to many small scale experiments and optimising operations, for instance the design of a website, in response to this feedback.

Question 32: To what extent can we promote such an approach in the public sector and are there any examples of emerging practice?

Risk management

It is a cliché that public sector managers – and possibly the Ministers to whom they report -- are risk averse. But often they are not so much risk averse as innovation averse. That is, there is a high ‘burden of proof’ against doing something differently even where it involves relatively low risks.

Sometimes this is because it is simply more comfortable to do things the way they’ve always been done. In other circumstances, some argue that specific professions can be set in their ways. There may be some wisdom in this given the complexity of existing systems and the possibility of unanticipated consequences, particularly where these consequences may be political. These decisions are often heavily influenced by experts.

Question 33: How can such expertise be governed so as not to unduly stifle innovation?

In comparison to many large commercial enterprises, public sector agencies in the main adopt quite restrictive practices in allowing staff access to Web 2.0 tools, social networking sites and even webmail. Most agencies simply ban access to these sites. One of the reasons often used to justify this position is the need to protect internal IT systems from exposure to threats from the internet. Highly prescriptive and centrally mandated security policies are often rigorously applied. Given the low risk culture of the public sector, it is difficult to see how agencies wishing to enter into the Web 2.0 world will be able to argue that the benefits to citizens, and to the operations of the agency, are of sufficient value to offset an exposure which cannot easily be assessed. Clearly the risks to agencies will vary depending on the nature of their business. It is unlikely that technology alone will solve this challenge.

Question 34: To what degree is the opportunity for Government agencies to participate in the Web 2.0 world inhibited, or severely compromised, by issues such as security? How might this problem be overcome, in general and by individual agencies, within current legal and policy parameters and how might these parameters be changed to assist in overcoming these problems?

Contractual and procurement issues

The use by government agencies of social networks and Web 2.0 applications and services may raise contractual and procurement issues for governments such as unacceptable indemnity clauses.

The United States Government, through the General Services Administration, negotiated whole of government agreements with Flickr, YouTube and other Web 2.0 providers with waivers of objectionable provisions. Similar agreements with Web 2.0 providers may be needed in Australia.

Proposed Information Commissioner

The Australian Government has proposed legislative reforms with the principal objects of promoting a pro-disclosure culture across the Government and building a stronger foundation for more openness in government. These reforms involve changes to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and Archives Act 1983 and the establishment of an Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC).

The functions of the Information Commissioner are set out in Clause 9 of the exposure draft and require the Information Commissioner to report to the Minister on a broad range of policies and practices relating to the administration and management of government information.

This Taskforce, in its Terms of Reference , has been given the task of identifying policies and frameworks to assist the Information Commissioner (and other agencies) in encouraging the dissemination of government information.

The Information Commissioner functions set out in the proposed Exposure Draft will obviously encompass issues that touch on questions raised in this Issues Paper. One of these is which aspects of Government information could fall within the purview of the proposed OIC.

These include, but are not limited to, the information management standards, policies and guidelines that are the responsibility of the National Archives, the IT system issues that are the responsibility of the Australian Government Information Management Office, and the administration of copyright that is the responsibility of the Attorney-General’s Department.

These areas all have some impact on recommendations the Taskforce might make.

Question 35: What role could the proposed OIC play in encouraging the development of Government 2.0? Are there practical recommendations the Taskforce might make about how the OIC might best fulfil its functions in relation to optimising the dissemination of Government information?

Appendix 1

Making a Submission: Terms of Engagement

We welcome your written submissions. There is no set format required and submissions need not be formal documents.

Submissions in electronic format are preferred and can be emailed to us at submissions@gov2.net.au.

If that isn’t possible, you can mail them to:

Government 2.0 Taskforce Secretariat Department of Finance and Deregulation John Gorton Building King Edward Terrace Parkes ACT 2600 Australia

We also offer the option to make online submissions through our Consultation page at http://gov2.net.au/consultation.

As a general principle all written submissions will be placed on the Government 2.0 website, as will discussion papers and other material developed as the Taskforce progresses.

Confidential submissions will be accepted from individuals where individuals can argue credibly that publication might compromise their ability to express their view freely. Pseudonymous submissions will also be accepted. Should you make a pseudonymous submission, it may not receive full consideration unless you remain contactable by e-mail should we wish to seek clarification or elaboration.

Please note that any request made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 for access to any material marked confidential will be determined in accordance with that Act. Submissions must be received by start of business Monday 24 August 2009.

If you do not want to make a written submission but would still like to give us some feedback, you can communicate with us on our blog at http://gov2.net.au.

Appendix 2

Terms of reference

The Government 2.0 Taskforce (‘Taskforce’) will advise and assist the government to:

•    make government information more accessible and usable — to establish a pro-disclosure culture around non-sensitive public sector information;

•    make government more consultative, participatory and transparent — to maximise the extent to which government utilises the views, knowledge and resources of the general community;

•    build a culture of online innovation within government — to ensure that government is receptive to the possibilities created by new collaborative technologies and uses them to advance its ambition to continually improve the way it operates;

•    promote collaboration across agencies with respect to online and information initiatives — to ensure that efficiencies, innovations, knowledge and enthusiasm are shared on a platform of open standards; and

•    identify and/or trial initiatives that may achieve or demonstrate how to accomplish the above objectives.

The Taskforce will advise government on structural barriers that prevent, and policies to promote, greater information disclosure, digital innovation and online engagement including the division of responsibilities for, and overall coordination of, these issues within government.

The Taskforce will work with the public, private, cultural and not for profit sectors to fund and develop seed projects that demonstrate the potential of proactive information disclosure and digital engagement for government. More information can be found on the Taskforce’s Project Fund page.

In particular the Taskforce will also identify policies and frameworks to assist the Information Commissioner and other agencies in:

•    developing and managing a whole of government information publication scheme to encourage greater disclosure of public sector information;

•    extending opportunities for the reuse of government information, and considering the terms of that use, to maximise the beneficial flow of that information and facilitate productive applications of government information to the greatest possible extent;

•    encouraging effective online innovation, consultation and engagement by government, including by drawing on the lessons of the government’s online consultation trials and any initiatives undertaken by the Taskforce.

The Taskforce will meet regularly, consulting in an open and transparent manner and use online solutions for its engagement wherever possible.

The Taskforce will provide a final report on its activities to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and the Cabinet Secretary by the end of 2009. The Taskforce will disband on completion of its final report.

Creative Commons: some rights reserved

Government 2.0 Taskforce is a group blog with open comments. Our copyright therefore has two parts:

Unless otherwise specified, posts are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution licence, Australian variant 2.5.

We do not hold copyright for comments,  however, except where we make it clear that other licensing arrangements are contemplated, your submission of content to this site is taken as an assertion by you that your own content falls under the same Creative Commons license as posts. If you have made a comment unaware of this policy and you are unhappy about it, please contact us and we can remove your comment from our system.

The Taskforce does not hold copyright for the Government 2.0 logo which was designed by Ben Crothers of Catch Media but as a condition of entry to the design competition, the creator of the logo consented to its use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Use license Australian variant 2.5 .

Tags: copyright, law, politics.
NT Government Refuses To Allow Republication of Hansard
28th May 2009

It's sad but I'm not surprised. Not only does this reinforce that the Government does not want you republishing what they say in Parliament sessions (as per their copyright statement on their web site), but they are not even willing to grant specific rights to specific groups for specific intentions.

From http://tickets.openaustralia.org/browse/OA-237,

from Katherine Szuminska <kat[at]openaustralia.org> to steve.stokes[at]nt.gov.au date 6 May 2009 22:18 subject Hansard Copyright request NT mailed-by openaustralia.org Hi Steve I am writing to you from OpenAustralia in your capacity as the contact for the NT Parliamentary Hansard as per http://www.nt.gov.au/lant/hansard/hansard.shtml We are a group of volunteers who run a website, http://www.openaustralia.org which republishes the Hansard from Federal Parliament in a user friendly searchable format. We also support email alerts and rss feeds by keyword. In future, as well as the Senate and the House of Representatives, we're also intending to republish the State and Territory Parliament Hansards in the same format, making it even easier for all Australians to have access to their elected Representatives and be easily informed of Parliamentary proceedings at all levels. Specifically in this case we'd like to republish the NT Parliamentary Hansard at www.openaustralia.org ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- On 27 May 2009, at 15:56, Steve Stokes wrote: Hi Katherine, Please note that authority has been given for you to link only to our Hansard & Legislation page or more specifically the Parliamentary Record databases on that page as per the Hansard link below. Unfortunately, authorisation has not been given to republish Northern Territory debates in another format. Should you require any further information, please feel free to contact me. Regards, Steven Stokes Table Office Manager Chamber Support Ph: (08) 8946 1447
Tags: copyright, politics.
SENG4921 - Lec 10 - Censorship, Internet content classification, ISP-level filtering and the interests of young people
23rd May 2009

The SENG4921 week 10 lecture was "Censorship, Internet content classification, ISP-level filtering and the interests of young people" by David Vaile. The Cyber Law Centre has some materials on the governments current censorship proposal at http://cyberlawcentre.org/censorship/.

This is not an article by me on the topic, rather my notes that I took from the lecture.

Lobbying Efforts


One of the main criticisms of the proposal is the lack of transparency. Vaile painted a nice picture of this. The classification board is where decisions about film ratings are made. Their decisions are public and they are subject to review. Under the proposal the decisions are secret. Consider this, if you have the job of classifying material and only the minister and PM know your decisions you are much more likely to make stricter decisions. If you classify something as blacklisted then people don't know its blacklisted so are less likely to complain that its blacklisted. Also if your boss (the minister) happens to be bias towards one end of the scale, then you would be more likely to make decisions on that end of the scale not necessarily where the line should be drawn. This may happen if there is no public scrutiny and no review process. Sure you cannot say for sure what an individual who has been assigned to classify sites will do, but this is the image I got from Vaile's talk.

Tag System

I first came across this when reading Lessig's Code 2.0. Instead of trying to filter the internet on the ISP level or running some kind of taxpayer funded attempt to classify the interent, put the onus on the web site owner. It would be very easy (and I'm sure such systems already exist) to add some extra HTML content at the top of an HTML page that would contain some metadata about the classification of the site. Perhaps MA if there is lots of violence references, or X for pornography. Then you could have laws in place that say if you distribute certain materials that contain, blah blah and blah, then you must adhere to these metadata tags.

This allows for the browser to filter pages based on their rating. So in school environments where the browser settings are locked down this could work. You could also (probably) do implement a filter at an ISP level (for say a school) that looks at the TCP packets and the HTML data for this rating metadata.

Sure there are many technical problems (particularly the case of you can't add this metadata so easily to non-HTML files) but the system sounds the best to me.


Vaile made a point about the dangers of over-legislating things. For example certain materials (which probably includes child pornography) is illegal to view, so if you happen to accidentally find this material on the internet and you want to report it to the police so they can track down the perpetrator, you are in a conundrum. If you tell the police about it, then you must have viewed the material yourself which is illegal so you may face criminal charges, hence you cannot report it.

This rebinds me of copyright infringement on the internet. You cannot know for sure what you are downloading until after it has downloaded (and even then you can how can you know if this material is illegal to copy or not?). Therefore how you can be charged for downloading copyrighted material is beyond me.

Opt In/Opt Out

What happens if the opt-in list is leaked. People can be criticised much more for opting in compared to opt out where you most likely won't be criticised.

Links (Vaile did not discuss)

Apparently not only does ACMA not like certain materials, they also don't like people posting links to materials that they don't like. But its not just ACMA, this link take down fiasco is a wider problem (think sites that host .torrent files).

So posting a link to a site on the ACMA blacklist will result in an $11,000 fine per day. What if you post the URL but with no <a href... tag? What if you encrypt the URL? What if you encrypt the URL and post the decryption key on a different domain? What if you post a link to a page that contains a link to a page on the blacklist? How many hops will ensure you don't get threats of massive fines? The internet has so many links I'm sure that somehow some .gov.au web site links to an other web site which in turn links to another web site ....... which in turn links to a site on the ACMA blacklist (I haven't the time to find this path though). Is it illegal to tell someone the street address of someone who may be able to provide you with illegal drugs?

The other problem is we are supposed to not post links to certain sites, but ACMA won't publish that list of sites that we cannot post to? So we must instead check our mail every single day in case today is the day that ACMA tells us that we are providing a link and must remove it immediately?

Tags: politics, seng4921.
EFA lodges it's submission to DBCDE Future Directions consultation.
15th February 2009

A few days ago EFA lodged it's submission to DBCDE Future Directions consultation.


I agree with the arguments of EFA, so it will be interesting to see what The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy does next.

Tags: politics.
Two Parliment Videos
15th February 2009

Two parliamentary videos I thought I would share...



Remark 1. It seems that from the offical source you can only stream live, you cannot download past videos.

Remark 2. On another note I checked the licensing of the official parliamentary videos.

"This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. All other rights are reserved. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Secretary, Department of Parliamentary Services, Canberra ACT, 2600 or Webmanager@aph.gov.au. --http://www.aph.gov.au/legal/copyright.htm

I'm interested if "[y]ou may ... reproduce this material in unaltered form only..." grants you the right to reproduce it as part of a larger derivative work, whilst not altering the copied segment. I think it should, but this is not clear enough in my opinion. Secondly "personal use" is a bit ambiguous. There are no references made to "personal use" in the Copyright Act 1968, so I'm wondering if this implies that one cannot republish this material for others to use. Again I think this should be allowed but it is unclear.

Tags: copyright, politics.
Good Things May Soon Come: Government Considering Open Access to Public Sector Information
6th February 2009
I was only just made aware of the Government's Draft Consultation Paper on "Digital Economy Future Directions" recently. The first consultation topic is "Open Access to Public Sector Information". At least they have expressed interest. So I went over to see what EFA had drafted for their submission,
"The Commonwealth should endorse a default set of licensing conditions for intellectual property which it owns that foster re-use of information. The standard licences provided by the Creative Commons project provide an example of how this can be done in a manner which is both (relatively) simple and clear. Standardising these licenses across government not only makes clear that a liberal attitude towards intellectual property re-use is encouraged, it also lowers transaction costs incurred by consumers of the information in understanding the licensing conditions. The Commonwealth is not a business - it should not be producing information which does not have an intrinsic public benefit, and so there is no imperative to recoup the cost of production of the information (although recouping the marginal costs of sharing the information, which will almost always be very low, may be justifiable). Allowing Australian companies and individuals to further develop intellectual property produced in the public sector can help to stimulate innovation in Australia's digital economy." --Electronic Frontiers Australia. http://wiki.efa.org.au/doku.php?id=digital_economy:2009-digital_economy_future_directions_consultation&rev=1233789400, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 (Australia) licence.
I could not agree more. I particularly agree with a set of (or even just one) government licenses named appropriately. This would simplify things greatly both for the government and the consumers of the material that would be licensed under the licenses terms. I can't say I completely agree with the the whole of the consultation paper, but at least they are looking the right direction for open access to public sector information. Lets hope they go along the lines of EFA's suggestions (as per the wiki). I'm particularly concerned about their plans for ISP filtering, but that's another story. The consultation paper also talks about so called "media literacy" which it defines; "Media literacy is a step beyond digital literacy and refers to the ability to critically consume, comprehend and create media in all its modern forms...Media literacy equips school children with the skills to effectively research online ... and gives people the capabilities to create their own diverse content and contribute to online communities such as forums and social networking sites". I have my own interpretation of "media literacy" but its hard to explain, but I think its something you can only get better at by experience. It says that "media literacy equips school children with the skills to effectively research online", but this notion conflicts with the systems that are currently in place in NSW. A public school student in NSW using the Internet at their school will never be able to effectively research online. This is because the DET filters the Internet so vigorously that you can no longer research, and when you can find some relevant information you are only getting one side or opinion because the other side is likely blocked (eg. blogger.com & wordpress.com are blocked). The other contradiction is that, at least for NSW public school students they will find it extremely difficult to "create their own diverse content and contribute to online communities such as forums and social networking sites" simply because most forums and social networking sites out there are (or were when I was at school) blocked (MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, along with many other similar sites are all blocked). What makes this worse is that the DET does not publish a list of blocked web sites, there goes accountability and transparency. So the federal government needs to work with the state governments, and then the state governments need to work with school systems such as the DET. The paper states, "The Digital Education Revolution, a major part of the Australian Government’s Education Revolution, is a vital step in developing the digital literacy of Australian students." which if I've interpreted it right, they are heading in the right direction, they just need to get the DET on the same side. EFA's draft submission on their wiki emphasises that current Australian copyright law is stifling innovation, something that I very much agree with. Hopefully the government will not ignore the EFA's submission.
Tags: det, education, politics.
NSW School Students and the Government's Planned Free Laptops
7th December 2008

As reported here and here the government will reportedly be issuing NSW years 9-12 students will a free laptop each. If this is true and if the government goes ahead with it there are some issues I think need addressing. As reported in The Age, "Next year NSW would begin rolling out lightweight, three-quarter sized laptops to the 197,000 students in years 9 to 12 with a lightweight." A lot of the issues depend if students will leave the laptops at school or home, or take them to and from every day. However as reported by The Age, Ms Verity Firth the NSW Minister for Education and Training said "That means the kids can bring their laptop in, open it up at their desk and just use it" So lets assume that either students will have to take them to and from school everyday, or can by choice. The first problem I see is if every 9-12 kid in the state has a high chance of having a laptop in their bag then street crime may rise and students may be mugged for their laptop. Unfortunately streets are not yet safe enough. Ms Firth reportedly also said, "It will be connected to the Department of Education network. As it is security coded there will be no impetus to steal one of these, because you won't be able to get access to the network." I can't see how this would technically work, and I very much doubt that it would work. Short of being stolen, what is stopping kids selling the laptop for cash?

Another issue is (more so for year 9-10 rather than 11-12) but I think a lot of students will not look after their laptop. Have you seen a group of year 9 kids, some throw bags around, others get tread on, and on a crammed school bus or crammed corridor some guy will just push everyone like sardines in between a rugby union scrum. Books inside bags can survive this, but laptops stand no chance. Schools will also have to up their security (although this is a good thing) as in the past and probably still now you would be refused to enter a certain classroom unless you left your bag outside in the corridor open to thefts.

They are some of the major concerns I have, but also students will just end up playing games, watching movies, instant messaging, emailing, surfing the web (although not so much due to the locked down nature of the DET provided internet) instead of doing school work or listening to the teachers, though I'm not sure if these things are good or bad. Because these technologies could also be using in a more relevant learning related way. For instance what would be better for the student, reading up the topic on Wikipedia instead of not making sense what the teacher is saying; instant messaging a friend about something the teacher just said instead of talking out loud and disrupting the teacher. I think we should not move so quickly to say this kind of behaviour should be condoned or discouraged rather more discussion about it should occur. This is a whole different argument and whole different matter to what I was originally trying to explore in this post, but although the technology is changing these kinds of things have been happening in the past and will continue to happen in the future. The thing that does change when you introduce technology into the classroom is that instead of the teacher being able to see if you are reading a maths textbook or science fiction novel, the teacher can no longer tell what you are doing on your laptop. These are some of the benefits of laptops in the classroom, however I think more discussion is needed.

Additionally, what will  happen when specific software is needed for a particular lesson. For example AutoCAD for a technical drawing class. You can't remove the classroom PCs yet as they would be the ones with the software installed and licensed on. There may be ways around this though.

The Age reported that "The roll out would cost $2,245 per student". Putting aside network infrastructure $2245 does sound a little too much for a mini-laptop. Currently you can get a HP DV5-1004AX (FK680PA) (CPU: AMD X2 Duo Core 2.0Ghz, RAM: 2GB DDR2, HDD: 320GB SATA, Graphic: ATI Mobile 3450 VGA dedicated 256MB, Screen: 15.4” WXGA (1280 x 800), DVD Burner Lightscribe, Card Reader, WiFi 802.11N, Gigabit LAN...) for $999, minus the cost of Microsoft Vista if you opt for a free OS like Linux. At that is not bulk buying. The $2245 per student may have changed, or may include other costs that may explain a bit more, but it is way too much for just the laptop.

Lastly the internet available at DET schools is mostly useless due to over-blocking sites on the internet. So the use of the laptops would be severely limited by this, although that is another matter entirely.

UPDATE: So it seems I have finally leant something. I should have gone straight to the source, the Premier's Media Release. After reading it I see how the media can change views. For instance "The computers will cost around $500 per unit with running costs bringing the cost per student to $2245.", which is not how I interpreted the media outlets stories.

References: http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/soa/NSW-to-censor-student-laptops/0,130061733,339292846,00.htm http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/laptops-in-schools-will-be-antisocial/2008/11/30/1227979845018.html http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/nsw-students-to-get-promised-laptops/2008/11/29/1227491892398.html http://news.theage.com.au/national/nsw-students-to-get-laptop-computers-20081130-6nmm.html

Tags: education, politics.

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