Is there a downside of being too open? - GWI

Is there a downside of being too open? 

It’s no secret, I am a massive fan of open data and information. The right/freedom of information polices across the globe have been a very important step in the transparency of how the public sector is spending taxpayer’s money. Like all good ideas, it has a downside, a really big downside that impacts on us all.

Recently in Queensland, Australia, it has been alleged that a State Government Minister has been using their private email, against policy and legislation. This, of course if proven, is rather worrying, right? I would contend this is merely the effect of a root cause that no western government and/or community is willing to acknowledge – we don’t let our politicians think and openly work through issues and policy.

Standing for public office is something many will criticise, yet it must take some serious commitment. The numerous elected officer holders, past and present, that I have met (on all sides), are generally decent people; like you and I, they just want to help and deliver improved outcomes for the community at large. While each group/party has an ideology, in the end, they all give up their private lives to try and deliver those outcomes, and here lies the problem.

Politicians are just like you and me. They make mistakes and they get things wrong. While we should, of course, always expect our elected officials to maintain the highest of standards, the fact is they sometimes don’t. Malicious and corrupt behaviour aside, politicians are merely people elected from the community to represent us and thus, just like us (you and me), fallible.

Using a private e-mail address to conduct policy discussions is wrong but politicians need a space in which to think and discuss ideas outside of the public domain, a place to creatively tackle the issues of the day.

Given the scrutiny and expectation created through the policy of right/freedom of information, many are afraid to make a meaningful decision. This may explain why so many choose to use tools and apps that are not available to the public. Perhaps, if we allowed our politicians to be more human, we might get a better quality of political leader.

Neil Glentworth
Executive Chairman