Speech notes from Google Election 2010 Launch

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 @ 1:00PM

Senator Lundy spoke at the Google Australia Election 2010 launch, alongside other panelists, Paul Fletcher MP and Senator Scott Ludlam. Her speech notes are below, and all video content from the event is available at http://www.youtube.com/australiavotes.

If the first incarnation of the internet saw the democratisation of information and made us all publishers, the second incarnation of the internet, Web2.0, is the democratisation of innovation and decision-making, and will make us all co-designers of civil society in the 21st century.
This brings with it a great deal of responsibility, perhaps more than most people realise.

In Australia, we have one of the world’s most open democracies. As citizens you can vote, easily contact your political representatives, participate in the parliamentary process and you can get access to all parliamentary business transcriptions and documentation including speeches, legislation, committees and much more. Compared with most countries and democracies around the world, we have it pretty good.

However, the Internet and particularly the explosion of social media and online communities has meant a fundamental shift for citizens, and I believe a fundamental shift for democracy. It means you are more empowered to have your say, collaborate with others on shared concerns and even directly influence and co-design government policies.

My personal belief is that we are heading into a new era where governments are tuned into and engaged with the digital lives of citizens. After all, Governments that do not reflect the digital lives of their constituents, can not truly represent them.

I’ve written at length on my website about the pillars of Gov 2.0, which is the emerging next generation of a digitally engaged democracy. Just briefly the pillars are:

  • democratising data which is about making information collected for and on behalf of citizens publicly available in a useful, open format, unless there is a demonstrable reason not to. This would create major benefits for transparency and the ability to make government data come alive in new and exciting ways, but will take a major shift in the practises, governance and indeed the culture for the public sector.
  • citizen-centric services is about delivering government services that are developed with the needs of the citizens put first. Imagine being able to supply as much or little information as you’d like to get a personalised online service rather than having to figure out the complexities of government just to find out what services you have access to.
  • participatory democracy is about directly involving citizens in the design and implementation of government policies for better outcomes. The best recent example of this is the Citizen’s Assembly announced by the Prime Minister to truly build consensus around Climate Change in Australia. It is an enormous policy, and by engaging citizens directly in the process of the policy development, we will see the highest level application of participatory democracy to policy yet seen in this country.

The proposal for a citizens assembly is one part of the Gillard Labor Government’s climate change plan which involves preparing for a price on carbon, investing in clean energy and reducing pollution in our daily lives. The Citizens Assembly is part of this plan because this issue shouldn’t only be decided in the corridors of parliament – with the big polluters throwing their weight around.

This should not just be a debate between experts. It must be a real debate involving many real Australians. Our challenge is to answer the community’s questions and develop the community’s commitment to taking the right action. The people need a voice on climate change – because climate change is about their future. And such a transformational change can’t be hostage to the political cycle.

It is important to acknowledge that accessibility will continue to be a challenge in delivering government services, however technology presents some truly exciting opportunities to close the digital divide, for instance the National Relay Service which is a phone service for the hearing impaired. In fact, the Government is reviewing the National Relay Service to see if it might be improved to better meet the current and future needs of deaf Australians, and Australians with hearing and speech impairments

Other great opportunities to close the Digital Divide include the National Broadband Network which will deliver ubiquitous, fast and reliable broadband to all Australians, the extensive web accessibility guidelines being implemented across government and of course getting more computers in the hands of students.

Briefly in conclusion, I am extremely proud of what we are doing to take Australia into the 21st century with a raft of fantastic ICT policies, and I am very excited about the opportunities to create an even more open, participatory and citizen centric government through the applied use of technology. I’m very proud to be here to help launch the Google Election 2010 platform, and I look forward to seeing the participation of Australia’s youth.

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