Australia and New Zealand have a proud history of calling the same thing different names, for no reason other than etymological coincidence. Duvet vs doona, thongs vs jandals, togs vs cossies. These differences are defended fiercely, in a kind of friendly rivalry.
It’s the same with open government. In 2009 the Australian Government 2.0 Taskforce developed a significant report that went on to inform government policy. The term stuck, and the open government communities in Australia are called Gov2QLD, Gov2NSW, Gov2ACT.
In NZ from 2008 we had open government barcamps, then Open NZ was formed. In 2011 the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government was passed. We’ve settled on ‘open government’ or in abbreviated form ‘opengovt’.
Despite these differences, the formation of open government policy in both countries, and the development of related communities of practice, has involved a lot of trans-Tasman exchange of ideas. Through visits to NZ by people like Senator Kate Lundy, Pia Waugh, and Nick Gruen, collaborative standards bodies like the Australia New Zealand Land Information Council (ANZLIC), and participation in conferences in Australia by our government officials, open government is a journey ourselves and our cousins across the ditch are travelling together.
The paths we take won’t be exactly the same. There are many differences, Australia has a state and federal system and two houses of parliament, NZ just has central and local government. Fundamentally though, we both come from the Westminster system, have cultures founded on egalitarian values, and share much in common in our economies and place in the Pacific.
In that spirit, I’m off to Australia this week. After my long stint head down at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, it’s time to renew and strengthen ties. I’ll be speaking at a range of events, and hoping to learn lots from Australian progress in open data, shared services, geospatial data infrastructure, and participative engagement.
Among other things I’ll be speaking at:
- FutureGov Forum Queensland – 4 December 2012
- GeoRabble Sydney and Gov2NSW – Thursday 6 December
- Gov 2.0 Canberra December Picnic – Saturday, December 8
I’ll blog what I learn as I go.