Named myWorld2015 (vote.myworld2015.org), the consultation has attracted over 2.1 million responses from around the world.
Of these, there have been 14,896 responses from Australia (viewable through the data page) – and it is very interesting to see which issues the Australian respondents have put as the most important to them.
The ‘usual suspects’ are at the top of the list, a good education, access to clean water and sanitation, protecting forests, rivers and oceans and affordable and nutritious food.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The issue that comes fifth for Australians is “an honest and responsive government”.
This issue rises to 2nd when looking at male Australian responses, and falls to 6th position when looking at female.
It is the most important issue for Australians aged over 61, ranked third for Australians aged 41-60, 5th for those aged 16-45 and 6th for those aged 15 and under.
Now I should note there’s 16 issues to choose from and the only other issue directly relating to government is “political freedoms”.
This ranks much lower – 11th for all Australians.
So what can be drawn from this data?
Australians do feel that “honest and responsive government” is a relatively important issue for them – less important than the environment or education, but more important than better healthcare, protection from discrimination or action on climate change.
Wrapped up in this is the notion that governments act in a truthful and upfront way, that they are accountable, transparent and, to some degree at least, open.
So if any Minister or senior public servant questions the value of open government, point them to MyWorld2015 and the views of nearly 15,000 Australians.
It might help them change their mind.
One could easily reframe these results by considering that citizens view those things at the top of the rankings as important outcomes, but “honest and responsive” government as only one of the multiple factors that, for them, determine those outcomes. After all, government is not a particularly valuable outcome of itself, but a means to desirable outcomes.
I find the dropping of importance by age cohort interesting. It suggests a pattern based on disappointment, such that the more you have experienced disappointment in/with government, the more important its honesty and responsiveness are to you.