A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Infrastructure Funding Lists

Many times in these pages I have said that I believe that access to information is essential in order to keep our government open and accountable. I have said that the difficulty experienced by our Parliamentary Budget Officer and by our MSM in being able to track the “infrastructure” Funding is a clear indication that our democracy is under attack. Impolitical has compared the way our government hides that information with the readily accessible spread sheets available on line for our American neighbours. I thought I would check out how another democracy nearer in structure to ours dealt with this important information.

Australia has a web site with the title “economic stimulus plan” where details of their plan can be found, it is split into several sections as follows:-

Community Infrastructure
Road and Rail
Ceiling Insulation
Solar Hot Water
Bonus Payments
Work Opportunities

Each page has a link to a list of all the funded projects, for instance The Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program has two large PDF files listing location, project description, funding amount and the Municipality responsible. Interestingly there is NO mention of the Australian Prime Minister on the intro page or any other page that I visited, referring to only “The Australian Government”, other pages link to the various other levels of government where, no doubt they have further information.

Their “Plan” seems to be much more structured and less haphazard than ours and certainly is clearly defined and documented. So far as the actual spending and financial situation there are 4 or 5 “Treasurers notes” each month which, although showing little detail, do discuss the latest economic news. However they do have an ongoing series of financial reports and spreadsheets from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which currently show the position up until 3 months ago. They are very comprehensive and probably just about as up to date as any large organization could be expected to produce. Kevin Page would be in his glory!

What a marked difference from our reporting systems, we will be lucky if we know where we stand right now by sometime in 2010. The Australian government is truly “Open and Accountable”. If the United States can implement such public reporting in the very short time period since “Bush” and Australia can do it, so can we. It is simply that our governments of all stripes and levels simply DOES NOT WANT US TO KNOW.

I note that there are a number of government employees who are working hard at changing thing and trying to get systems in place so that such public access to this information via the internet becomes the norm. For the most part they are doing so on their own initiative and their own time, supported in part by several citizens initiatives to enhance the use of new internet technology to make it easer to find information of all kinds of government related information.
Just don’t expect our government to help them do that anytime soon!

For those interested Australia has also produced an extensive study on Electronic Democracy as relates to governments on the need for, the requirements of, and pitfalls of same. In it Electronic Democracy is defined as follows:-
“The direct and indirect use of electronic technologies (information and communications technologies) to participate in the democratic process. Direct forms of electronic democracy include electronic and online voting, participation in consultation, and interactions between elected representatives and constituents. Indirect forms of electronic democracy include such things as the production and consumption of politically relevant information and community capacity building to utilise information and communications technologies.”

They obviously have not let the report gather dust. Way to go Aussies. Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

No comments: