Universities Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Government's Digital Economy Future Directions Consultation Paper. Unfortunately, Universities Australia was not involved in the workshops that were conducted by the Australian Government in August and September 2008 which led to the preparation of this consultation paper.
Open Access to Public Sector informationUniversities Australia strongly supports the philosophy of open access to public sector information, particularly internet access. Specifically, public sector information should be made available to the education sector free of charge in machine-readable formats, for example in Microsoft Word and Excel so that the material can be re-used. This is also an economically efficient approach. Information is a "public good"- non-rival and non-excludable. To artificially exclude access to material already produced for the purposes of government is to deprive the economy and society of knowledge that can improve understanding and outcomes. Application of so-called "user-pays" and "cost recovery" management approaches typically neglect vast benefits and focus only upon modest costs, often swamped by the collection costs of charges.
To read the full submission, download the PDF below.