Our Money, Our Right to Know

Every day the Australian government spends over a billion dollars of taxpayer funds, yet we have no idea where to or how. Let's bring Australian politicians up to speed with the rest of the world with a transparency portal.

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We have a right to know how our taxes are being spent! 

Every day the Australian government spends over a billion dollars of taxpayer funds, yet we have no idea where to or how. Let's bring Australian politicians up to speed with the rest of the world with a transparency portal!


Knowing where our money is going shouldn't be so hard. Yet to find anything out requires time-consuming and expensive freedom of information requests, reading through hundreds of pages of budget documents... and even then you might not find out!

We now have the technology to change this.

Around the world, governments are implementing “Transparency Portals” – where you can see how every detail of how your money is being spent.

The U.S. Government posts all expenditures over $25,000 online. Over 30 US states have similar portals – many showing expenditure down to the cent. London does it, the European Union does it – it’s time for us to do the same.

This will lead to good government: By subjecting every cent of taxpayer spending to the scrutiny of potentially millions of Australians, and not simply a handful of bureaucrats, waste can be reduced, corruption could be ferreted out, and a higher level of governance should be achieved.

This will save millions: To use just one example, in the state of Texas, US$8.7 million was saved in the first year alone due to waste found by citizens using their transparency portal.  The cost of creating it? Just $380,000

This will be used frequently: Everywhere they have been implemented they have proven a success: For instance, the US state of Missouri, with a slightly smaller population than New South Wales, reported over 15 million hits to their website in its first year of operation.

This will stop corruption: by allowing public scrutiny of government spending, governments can be thwarted from funneling money to special interest groups or pork-barrelling to marginal electorates. Similarly, the potential for corruption or fraud should be significantly reduced; such scrutiny will significantly increase the chance of discovery, thereby reducing its occurrence.

This will stop waste: Since the public will know how their money is being spent, government shall no longer be able to hide waste away from the public eye and will be forced to become accountable. Inefficient projects that can not withstand such scrutiny could be cancelled. It would be a lot more difficult to justify rorts and junkets once such expenditure becomes public knowledge!

This will be cheap: The evidence from around the world is overwhelming: such scrutiny can be conducted quickly, easily, and cheaply. The U.S. Federal Website was estimated to cost $4 million with $15 million for upkeep between 2007-11. In reality, the cost was fewer than $1 million – and the software used is now available free of charge. The state of Texas was able to create a spending portal for $380,000. Nebraska  did it for $30,000, and in Oklahoma just $8,000 for the purchase of software, and the website was built and loaded by reallocating staff time at no extra cost.

This is not a left-right issue, it is a right-wrong issue.

The only people who oppose transparency portals are those who have something to hide.

Transparency websites have been tried, tested, and proven. They have been built cheaply, they have saved millions, and they have empowered ordinary taxpayers to engage with their government, and to know how their taxes are being spent. They eliminate waste, help stop corruption and prevent fraud, and there is no strong political, economic, or legal argument against them.

We have prepared a research paper on just how this could be implemented in Australia: you can download it here.


Here are some further resources for you:

1)A memo prepared by the US Based Center for Fiscal Accountability listing legislative and executive creations of taxpayer expenditure portals at the state level in the U.S.
2)A memo prepared by the US Based Center for Fiscal Accountability listing the U.S. taxpayer expenditure portals presently in existence
3)A memo prepared by the US Based Center for Fiscal Accountability listing the cost of these portals and some of the savings they have generated
4)Model legislation for the establishment of taxpayer expenditure portals drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council
5)A detailed report by Arizona PIRG examining the taxpayer expenditure portals in every state, providing rankings and a considerable level of analysis on both the theory and practicalities of such portals
6)An article we authored for the IPA Review calling for the creation of Taxpayer Transparency Portals in Australia
7)An op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald  on how the Peter Slipper saga demonstrates we need these in Australia

Here are some example portals for you to look at:

Texas Transparency

KanView 

Arizona OpenBooks

And finally a video from the great Topher Field:



So stand up for our right to know how our money is being spent - use our form to contact your MP today! 

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Are you a member of parliament , a local government councillor or a candidate at an upcoming election? Please contact us at tandrews@taxpayers.org.au to sign our pledge standing up for Aussie taxpayers!

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