Seeds of Parliamentary support to bring NSW Hansard on to OpenAustralia.org

Since we started OpenAustralia we’ve wanted to republish not only the Federal but also State and Territory Parliaments on Openaustralia.org. Bizarrely (to us) its been much harder to get the States on board with this than our own Federal Government; while there remain challenges ahead we’re quietly confident. It’s the twenty first century after all, and so the question is not if, but when will we have all levels of government Hansards together in a single searchable site?

Recently, an international initiative by a large number of our fellow Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations, the Declaration of Parliamentary Openness, was announced. This lays out principles which we all hope Parliaments can follow. They are simple principles that make Parliaments more accessible and accountable to the very people that they are representing.

When news of the announcement came, we were rather pleased to see that Penny Sharpe, the NSW Shadow Minister for Transport, made a speech in parliament on the declaration noting it’s relevance here. She appears to have been the first Parliamentarian to have mentioned the declaration in a Parliament anywhere in the world. We love our world firsts!

She then took the next step of writing to Greg Pearce, who’s the Minister for Finance and Services and Don Harwin, the President of the Legislative Council asking directly for their support in helping us make the NSW parliament more accessible to citizens.

I quote the text of the letters here. For the originals see the end [1]

The Hon Penny Sharpe MLC
Shadow Minister for Transport

The Hon. Greg Pearce MLC
Minister for Finance and Services

Dear Minister

I am writing in support of the Parliamentary Monitoring Organisation (PMO) OpenAustralia (www.OpenAustralia.org).

OpenAustralia is a not-for-profit, volunteer based organisation that aims to make it easy for people to keep track of their Federal representatives by providing alerts when any given Member of Parliament speaks.

Currently, OpenAustralia does not have the ability to provide this service to the citizens of NSW on behalf of their representatives because of issues in accessing the Parliament of NSW’s Hansard feed and due to a lack of funding to expand their operations.

I believe the citizens of NSW would benefit from such a service in this state.

OpenAustralia would require a small grant of up to $10,000 to allow expansion of their work.

Given the Government’s state commitment to “making it easier for NSW citizens to interact with government, to harnessing the oppurtunities provided by ICT to improve government operations, and to developing the ICT industry in NSW”, could you investigate if there is funding available to OpenAustralia to assist them to make it easier for NSW citizens to access and interact with the work of their elected representatives?

Yours sincerely

Penny Sharpe MLC


The Hon Penny Sharpe MLC
Shadow Minister for Transport

The Hon. Don Harwin MLC
President of the Legislative Council of NSW

Dear President

I am writing to request your assistance in convening a meeting with the Parliamentary Monitoring Organisation (PMO) OpenAustralia.

PMOs are organisations set up by citizens to monitor or assess the functioning of parliaments or their individual members.

OpenAustralia aims to make it easy for people to keep tabs on their Federal representatives by providing alerts when any given Member of Parliament speaks.

Currently, OpenAustralia.org does not have the ability to provide this service to the citizens of NSW on behalf of their state representatives because of issues in accessing the Parliament of NSW’s Hansard feed.

The service that OpenAustralia provides is a successful blueprint for engaging citizens with the work of their elected representatives.

I believe the citizens of NSW would benefit from such a service here.

I would be grateful for your assistance in convening a meeting between Dr Matthew Landauer, Director, OpenAustralia Foundation and the Parliamentary Information Services section to see what can be done to enable OpenAustralia to provide their service to citizens of NSW.

For more information about OpenAustralia, please visit www.OpenAustralia.org

Yours sincerely

Penny Sharpe MLC

We thank Penny Sharpe for her support and for writing these letters. We are looking forward to where this goes.

[1] Scans of letters from Penny Sharpe

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2 Comments

  1. Posted January 8, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Dated October 2012: what was the result of Penny’s letters ?
    With Mark Scott’s following his personal agenda and removing Quentin Dempster’s Friday State Govt roundup on the ABC, we now have no knowledge of what the bastards are doing.
    I must assume that Penny’s correspondence sank into the LNP’s bilges, and is now floating amongst what will become flotsam when the current ‘ship of state’ eventually founders … Which it might do before I kark, now that John thingummy has resigned …

    • Henare Degan
      Posted January 8, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      >what was the result of Penny’s letters ?

      Nothing as far as I know :(

      We also recently invited representatives from the NSW Parliament to attend our < a href="http://www.meetup.com/OpenAustralia-Foundation/events/194982632/">Global Legislative Openness Week Hackfest to no avail. Penny tried to help with this too but we weren’t able to get anywhere with the NSW Parliament.

      We did have representatives from the Federal Parliament attend though – a first in Australia.

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