26 October 2013

The assurance given to the British Prime Minister in September that New Zealand would join the Open Government Partnership can be anticipated occurring next week as part of the Open Government Partnership Annual Summit.  New Zealand will be the newest country committing to the OG Declaration.

Although there has been no formal statement of the New Zealand intention first disclosed by Mr Key en route to his weekend with the Royal Family at Balmoral, a media release yesterday about a visit by Dr Coleman to the United States also indicated that the Minister of State Services will attend the London OGP summit from 31 October – 1 November 2013.

An announcement of Australian participation at the summit shows possibly even less enthusiasm than New Zealand.  Australia will be represented by not by a Minister but by its Chief Technology Officer and supporting officials.

The OGP believes its effectiveness flows from a shared sense of purpose between governments and their respective civil societies.  The New Zealand chapter of Transparency International  was the only NGO to express any interest when on 20 September Mr Key indicated an intention to join the OGP, but neither TINZ – nor any other group – has yet suggested representing New Zealand civil society at the OGP summit.

Promotional material about the summit suggests that “…participants – including representatives from civil society organisations, businesses and governments – will share experiences from their respective countries and provide real examples of how openness can improve public services, drive economic growth, reduce poverty and corruption, and restore public faith in government…”

“Each government coming to London has been asked to announce an ambitious new open government commitment to be integrated in their OGP action plan.  OGP will also welcome new participating countries, and will announce the launch of five thematic working groups, four multilateral partnerships, and a new Open Government Prize Competition.”

New Zealand and Australia will be among five or six new comers.