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Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert, has announced a milestone in the government's commitment to improve service delivery.

A discussion paper outlining proposed landmark public data sharing reforms has been released with the aim of building the foundations for a secure, connected and seamless experience of government services.

Minister Robert said the reforms will enshrine stronger safeguards in legislation to enable the modernisation of the government’s public data capability and set a clear, consistent and transparent approach to public data sharing.

‘Australians expect government services to be simple, seamless, and fast —just like their everyday experience of shopping and banking. These proposed reforms will establish stronger safeguards and enable Government to use data more effectively and securely to deliver services in a way that meets the expectations of the Australian public,’ Minister Robert said.

‘The sharing of public sector data has incredible potential at the individual level – reducing the friction and duplication of tasks that many Australians experience when accessing government services. It is equally beneficial at the national level, by delivering new insights that inform research and government policies on complex challenges in health, education and the economy.

‘Currently, there is a labyrinth of over 500 separate privacy and secrecy provisions enacted over a century hindering our ability to share data to deliver the service Australians deserve. These reforms will ensure we keep pace with international standards and best practice when it comes to government service delivery.

‘However, the use of data must be done safely, for the right purpose and by the right people, with privacy and security at the very core. We are committed to getting this right so we’ve sought the views of users and stakeholders, including peak bodies, privacy experts, businesses and research institutions to help shape the policies outlined in this Discussion Paper.'

Daniel Lai, CEO of archTIS, said the reforms will enable better collaboration between arms of government.

"Data plays a critical role in both everyday Australians accessing government services and interacting with customer-facing government institutions, as well as cross-team collaboration between government agencies and departments - particularly on data of a confidential or sensitive nature," Lai said.

"The expansion of the powers of the Office of the National Data Commissioner, is therefore not only a necessary step, but long overdue."

Nir Gabay, managing director of Elsight, said the government should consider international data-sharing to enable better collaboration with countries like Israel on national security matters.

"One aspect that Minister Robert’s reforms should consider is the dimension of public data-sharing that concerns international data transfers," Gabay said. "This is a significant challenge for cross-border confidential and sensitive data sharing between governments.

"Ultimately, Minister Robert’s announcement is a welcome sign the Australian government is listening."

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