Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 June 2009) . . Page.. 2365 ..
information with the community. Has there ever been a government anywhere that has actually been criticised publicly for being too open and accountable?
Most Saturdays the government provides timely, relevant information for tens of thousands of Canberrans through the Canberra Times community noticeboard, another initiative to get the message out broadly of key government actions, initiatives and projects. We are asking Canberrans for their views on a range of issues about upgrades to their local shopping centres, about plans for a new south side cemetery, about proposed upgrades to major sporting facilities and, yes, even seeking their views on naming a new native plant to mark Canberra’s 2013 celebrations.
In the past six months, this government has brought together dozens of key stakeholder groups in an unprecedented series of roundtables to work through a large number of issues ranging from how we can best stave off the worst of the current economic crisis through to new strategies to improve road safety on our local roads.
There are a range of practical areas of this government’s commitment to openness and accountability, and I would like to speak particularly about its dealings with the community and the community sector. First and foremost, as a demonstration of the way this government engages with the community and holds itself accountable to the community, has been the extensive work in setting a planning framework and vision for the ACT’s future. In preparing our blue print document, the Canberra plan and its related plans—the Canberra social plan, the spatial plan and the economic plan—as well as in preparing the 2000 update of the Canberra plan, the government spoke extensively with Canberrans and interest groups.
The plan states clearly that ongoing involvement with the community is needed to reach agreement and consensus in the way ahead. The renewal of the Canberra plan prompted a wide initiative to more firmly locate this key strategic document as well as other government and portfolio plans in a cross-government performance and accountability framework. This accountability in government initiative was funded in the 2008-09 budget, with an aim to strengthen the government’s capacity to deliver policies and service delivery outcomes; promote agency accountability and performance; develop a performance and accountability model and the first stage of implementation; and prepare the ACT for incorporation of COAG performance processes in accountability arrangements.
A broader model of citizen-centred governments emerged very quickly to build in the desired community perspective and engagement into government systems and processes. This model covers three main elements of government activity such as priority and direction setting, service frameworks and delivery and accountability. Funding for the reaching out to the community initiative will support a broader Canberra community conversation on the big-picture issues that affect our future.
Last year the government announced that it would consult with the community on preferred engagement methods and strategies. This work is now underway and will inform the approach to the broader conversation on these big-picture issues. The project is applying different methodologies such as surveys, focus groups and online techniques to get feedback from the community about its preferred methods of engaging with government.