The federal government has revealed the six members of the new National Data Advisory Council, which met for the first time today in Sydney.
The government in May 2018 revealed its intention to form the council as part of a broader four-year data program.
The suite of measures foreshadowed by the government was a response to the findings of a 2016-17 Productivity Commission inquiry into data availability and use.
That inquiry concluded that “growth in data generation and usability has enabled a kaleidoscope of new business models, products and insights”. However the PC’s report added: “Data frameworks and protections developed prior to sweeping digitisation need reform. This is a global phenomenon and Australia, to its detriment, is not yet participating.”
The new council’s key role is to advise the National Data Commissioner: In August IP Australia’s deputy director general for policy and corporate, Deborah Anton, was appointed interim commissioner.
The members of the council are economist Associate Professor Nicholas Biddle; open data consultant and author Ellen Broad; co-founder of Data Governance Australia Paul McCarney; Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Dr Joshua Meltzer; CEO of the Consumer Policy Research Centre Lauren Solomon; and Professor Fiona Stanley, the 2003 Australian of the Year and distinguished research professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Western Australia
The council will offer advice on issues including ethical data usage, social licence building and technical best practice, as the government moves to draft a new data sharing and release act.
Last week the government announced the publication of Sharing Data Safely: A set of guidelines based on the UK’s ‘Five Safes’. The new framework was drawn up by the Office of the National Data Commissioner (ONDC) in collaboration with the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
“Data held by Government is a hugely valuable national resource that, when used correctly, can drive innovation and economic growth, help to better inform public policy and deliver breakthroughs for researchers and scientists,” human services and digital transformation minister Michael Keenan said in a statement today.
“But maintaining public trust is crucial if we want to unlock the full potential that our data holds. That is why I’m pleased to have been able to appoint a council that represents the full range of community views, including those of privacy advocates, researchers and industry.”