OpenAustralia news


25 June 2010

Register of Senators' Interests update - June 2010

We've just received and uploaded the latest batch of updates to the Register of Senators' Interests spanning the period 24 November 2009 to 21 June 2010.

As per usual, they are added to the end of each Senator's register which can be found on their page. See for example Senator Mark Arbib.

To make it easier to see just what's changed in this update you can also now download a compilation of all the recent changes.

You might be wondering why we update the Register of Senators' Interests before we update the Register of Members' Interests. This is because the Senate is able to send us a digital scanned copy of their register, while the House of Representatives sends us only a hardcopy of their register. It simply takes us a little time to organise someone who will scan the document for us.

Posted at 15:05:00 by Matthew | Link to this

3 May 2010

Kevin Rudd surrenders his Cuban cigars. But who gets to smoke them?

We've just finished uploading an enormous update bringing you changes in interests that may influence the decision making of the people running our country. The update is a whopping 850 pages and tracks changes to the Register of Members' Interests for the period from 25 June 2008 to the very recent 17 March 2010. Recent changes are appended to their existing entries and are conveniently located on the members' pages. See for example Kevin Rudd.

Thanks to David Elder and Lynnette Eager of the Clerk's office for sending us the update. Thanks also to two fine upstanding citizens, Sharon and Thomas Clark of Sydney for the use of their bulk scanner over a cup of tea.

This is a unique resource for interested citizens and journalists. The register, which is only available online from this website, now runs to nearly 2000 pages and within it are buried all sorts of interesting and potentially important connections between politicians, corporations, charities, religious and sporting organisations, foreign countries and financial institutions. Ignore it at your peril.

Posted at 12:30:00 by Matthew | Link to this

9 March 2010

Register of Senators' Interests updated

We've just updated the Register of Senators' Interests on the site. The register for Senators is now up to date up to 23 November 2009.

The same can't unfortunately yet be said of the equivalent register for the Representatives in parliament. The Register of Members' Interests only has updates and ammendments up to June 2008. We've been trying for a while to get the latest changes. Good news is that just a few days ago we were told that the latest updates are on their way to us in the post, so with a little luck you should be able to see it here soon. Stay tuned!

For a quick example see the updated register for Senator Bob Brown. It now goes to an impressive 43 pages.

As always you can find the link to the Register of Interests at the bottom of each Senator or Representative's page on OpenAustralia.

Posted at 09:52:00 by Matthew | Link to this

22 October 2009

Calling OpenAustralia volunteers

Yes, it's that time again. The OpenAustralia Foundation is having another hackfest! For the many of you out there that may be wondering, what on earth is a hackfest? It's a technical working bee of sorts. We get a bunch of great people together and work on ideas for how to make and other related projects even better.

This time it's a special hackfest as we're planning it to coincide with the Goverment 2.0 Taskforce's recently launched competition, MashupAustralia and we're running it over the entire weekend of the 7th and 8th of November in Sydney. The Government 2.0 Taskforce has asked Australians to help show why open access to Australian Government information is good for our society and economy. They've kicked things off by arranging for an assortment of Goverment data to be made available and have also announced over $20,000 in prizes.

You don't need to be a software developer or 'hacker' to come along - everyone is welcome to this free event being hosted at Google's Sydney offices. All you have to do is head along to our hackfest site and sign up to the event.

We're all looking forward to seeing you there!

Posted at 22:03:00 by Henare | Link to this

29 September 2009

OpenAustralia Goes Mobile and Gets Social

Many of you may have been in the same situation as this - you're out having a quiet drink with friends and a loud political discussion ensues. Without access to to settle the debate, you're stuck. Well now that's changing - from today when you access OpenAustralia on your mobile device, you'll get a site optimised for its small display so you can quickly and easily settle that "discussion" :) Thanks to Rob Manson for creating this great new feature.

A feature that we added to the site recently, created by yours truly, is the ability to share speeches on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. You may have noticed that there is a "Share This" link next to each speech listed on OpenAustralia. Simply hover over that link and select the social network you want to share the speech on and start a discussion with your friends.

If you have a Wordpress blog that you host yourself you'll be interested in a plugin that was developed by Sherif Mansour at our recent Hackfest in Sydney called PoliPress. Using this plugin you can import speeches from OpenAustralia right into your own blog to discuss them or comment on them.

We hope you enjoy the new features and if you have any ideas for what you'd like to see on OpenAustralia, please get in touch!

Posted at 12:58:00 by Henare | Link to this

12 May 2009

Our new home on Facebook

If you're a user of Facebook, come and visit our new home on Facebook and invite your friends along. Do your bit by letting even more people know about

Also, you can talk amongst your fellow OpenAustralia fans, leave comments, post links and all the usual stuff.

Posted at 16:30:00 by Matthew | Link to this

6 May 2009

Opening up the procedures of Parliament

So far we've shown you what they say (speeches) not what they do (procedures). Believe it or not proceedings of Parliament take place within a highly structured system. The speeches don't always give the full picture of what's going on. So, to help provide some more context, we've now added "procedural text".

Procedural text is a standardised description of what's going on. Examples include: someone putting forward a motion, reading a bill, a debate ending, or someone leaving the chamber.

We hadn't included it in the past because we simply hadn't supported the translation of the information from the official source.

Also, we have a further incentive. It's also preparation for some very exciting new developments which we hope to announce soon!

Posted at 18:15:00 by Kat | Link to this

26 February 2009

Another big step forward for government transparency in Australia

Today we proudly bring you the Register of Members' Interests. We have now made these extremely important documents available online for the first time ever.

In the Register of Interests, Representatives and Senators declare information of financial interests, stocks and shares held, gifts received over a certain value, and memberships of Clubs and Associations.

Now, the Register of Interests is available for all sitting Senators and Representatives and is available at the bottom of each of their pages.

See, for instance, the Register of Interests for the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, available at the bottom of his page. (direct link)

This latest addition was largely made possible by the generous help of volunteer Stephen Thorne at Netbox Blue who scanned the 1500 pages of the Register of Members' Interests and Bernard Wright, the Registrar of Members' Interests, for providing us with the hardcopy material.

Posted at 08:30:00 by Matthew | Link to this

19 February 2009

Multiple email alerts over the last few days

Some of you might have been getting multiple email alerts for the same day's speeches over the last few days. We're sorry about this. It turns out one of the email alerts was causing the mailing system to fail and each day it was retrying and sending out the old mails again. We found the wayward alert and fixed it. Tomorrow (Friday 20 February) you might get another duplicate email but after that everything should be back to normal.

As always, if you find a problem or something isn't working as expected please do let us know by emailing us at

Posted at 17:29:00 by Matthew | Link to this

5 January 2009

Read the Register of Senators' Interests here

Today is a big milestone. We are the first website to make the Register of Senators' Interests available online. This important public document until now has only been available to the small number of people who were able to visit the office in Canberra where the documents are held. In the Register each Senator declares information of financial interests, stocks and shares held, gifts received over a certain value, and memberships of Clubs and Associations.

The register is available on each Senator's page. For example, have a look at the Register for Senator Judith Adams.

As soon as we can we will also make the Register of Members' Interests available online, the equivalent document for the Representatives. Our main obstacle right now is getting our paper copy of the register scanned. If you have access to a bulk scanner and can help please contact us.

Posted at 11:05:00 by Matthew | Link to this