Join Our Transparency Campaign!

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 taxpayers are being left in the dark on how it is being spent.

It’s our money: we have the right to know where it is going. 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! 

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!


37 Replies to "Join Our Transparency Campaign!"

  • NoelTipaldy
    4 June, 2012 (12:36 pm)
    Reply

    How about this?

    FEDERAL Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has vowed to restrict access to Freedom of Information laws and “correct an anomaly” that allows parliament to be subjected to requests for official documents.

    In other words the taxpayers money can be taken and spent however these MPs like and we can know nothing about it!

    Absolute disgrace!

    This Gillard led government is the most secretive and corrupt administration Australia has ever seen.

    Remember Gillard and her claim that the ALP minority government would throw open the windows….ha, more like throw openness out the window.

    Bring on the next election!

    • Richard Love
      4 June, 2012 (8:50 pm)
      Reply

      Could not agree more…bring on the election!, if only we had someone worth voting for…idiots on one side,fools on the other, how can we get rid of people that want to be politicians? A wise man once said “ there are two types of people, ones that want to be left alone and those that wont leave you alone” guess which category the bloody politicians fall under…

      • MattM
        6 June, 2012 (1:22 pm)
        Reply

        There are some excellent options here:
        http://www.theindependentaustralian.com.au/node/73

        A balanced immigration policy is the key for moving foward and ideally not spending tax payer money on baby breeding incentives. Any party suggesting we need to keep growing our population at 1.4+% and/or higher is not genuine about resolving our growing issues.

    • Mark Broadbent
      22 November, 2012 (6:48 pm)
      Reply

      The sooner the better I say, but I think Gillard will call the next election for the 1st or 2nd week of July next year to give Tony Abbott a hostile senate for as long as possible.

    • James
      24 November, 2012 (12:31 pm)
      Reply

      Yes, bring on the next election. People have to wake up before Socialism destroys this country.

    • Michael Aldred
      26 November, 2012 (8:55 am)
      Reply

      Roxon, that enemy of the people, will be the first to suffer under transparency law. She has a lot to hide, a lot to hide.
      Shine the sunlight on her and watch the cockroaches scuttle for the dark……

  • overit
    4 June, 2012 (12:46 pm)
    Reply

    Maybe we should all apply the same principal to the Taxation Department – oh we can’t we would end up in jail. It’s nice there are no double standards or elitism in Australia.

    • don
      23 November, 2012 (11:36 am)
      Reply

      Definitely needs to be applied to the Tax office as well, stops the supply of undeclared collections of money for shush funds and bribes…

      Then after a few years of not being able to ‘control’ people and actually have to do some work as public servants, the ‘corporate psychopaths’ will move on…

      Then we will have to ask for ‘MRI’ certificates on all middle management and management positions — people with defective or unformed brain empathic centers are not allowed to have positions of ‘control’.

  • Peter Kelly
    6 June, 2012 (1:06 am)
    Reply

    Its interesting, but totally unsurprising that a “government” led by this marxist socialist, lying, dog of a labor leader should fully support any and all privacy removing amendments to Federal and State security legislation, not to mention general law, on the grounds that “If you have nothing to hide, then whats your problem?” but when it comes to themselves this “government’ are prepared to make information about their rorts, lies and fraud totally opaque to the people they work for and whom pay the taxes they are thieving.

    Whats good for the Ganders is certainly good for the Geese who skulk behind proscriptive legislation. Nixon is as much a marxist as gillard.

  • s warne
    6 June, 2012 (5:07 pm)
    Reply

    The australian government has proved time after time it is not capable of making rational decisions on behalf of our citizens.We need a total overhall of the way political decisions are made in this country. All major decisions should be voted on electronically (eg carbon tax ) and the outcome simply implememented by a limited number of beuracrats. The cost savings would be immence but the screams of redundant poiticians would be deafening

    • Shenny
      22 November, 2012 (5:29 pm)
      Reply

      HERE HERE!!!!

  • Greg Eves
    6 June, 2012 (7:03 pm)
    Reply

    Please stop the slanging match !
    The world economies have shown us that world wide, our frame work of Governence IS NOT WORKING. We too will be in the same mess that Europe etc are in, in the not too distant future if we simply sit back and don’t change “The System”.
    We require a better, fairer system than what we (the world) has now !
    We are all looking affield at other countries like they are “over there”, we somehow feel immune and look at them with a feeling of disconnect. What about the “Global” society we supposedly live in.
    If we are half as smart as we think we are why don’t we look at all of this as a “GLOBAL” matter. After all that is what the “CARBON TAX or GLOBAL WARMING” has been about. There has been a concerted effort to drain money from our pockets to feed the WASTE that we have allowed to proliferate in all of our individual economies around the world. This is axactly why we are GLOBALLY in the trouble we now find ourselves in. Human nature is fraut with greed and sole ambition. This is a call to rise above this and “THINK or CONSIDER” for all in a balanced manner.

    • J Duncan
      14 June, 2012 (12:37 pm)
      Reply

      Greg, does this mean that you’d like to see a World Government, because that’s how this course of action would eventuate. Once we start “joining hands” with Europe, the US, etc., we’d have their difficulties tied in with our own. We can’t pick and chose which matters we agree on, and once we’re tied in on one issue, others will follow! THis is just what a lot of cunning and powerful people are working towards!

    • Pedro Ellis
      24 November, 2012 (5:14 pm)
      Reply

      We AustralianTaxpayers need to wake up, rev up and take ownership of what poor Greg calls “slanging match”. I believe that “he who pays the piper must call the tune”. No Greg, nothing to do with a slanging match but getting sick and tired of being fleeced of our hard earned income. We have a small chance of fixing our own countries problems by eliminating wasteful government expenditure and NO chance of changing something referred to as WORLD WIDE. Greg needs instead to wake up to the fact that he has been had by the BS of changing the climate by imposing a Carbon DIOXIDE tax. What he suggests is to enlarge the debate to a world wide one and, as such, suggests a red herring rather than sticking to the matter at hand. Oh boy, what nonsense!

  • Noel Tiplady
    7 June, 2012 (3:56 pm)
    Reply

    I like the statement on the Texas Transparency website:-

    “Open government is accountable government.”

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for Gillard to introduce this kind of openess.
    This ALP/ Greens/ Independent minority government is corrupt to the core and they want to stop any criticism or scrutiny that may shine the light of justice and democracy on their slimey machinations.
    Independents: Oakeshott, Windsor and Wilkie should hang their heads in shame for supporting this scandalous government.
    They were supposed to be there to keep these bastards honest………or were they?

  • Michael
    22 June, 2012 (8:25 pm)
    Reply

    Public companies must be transparent and accountable why not the public sector. However where does the transparency stop, when it comes to national security?

    • Ryan
      24 November, 2012 (11:58 am)
      Reply

      i was concerned with the same thing, however i am open to flase flag attacks like 9/11 being staged in order for governments to remove liberties that “might jeopardise national security”.

  • Dxk
    27 June, 2012 (11:46 pm)
    Reply

    Woodbridge is a small rural, heritage village of some 269 souls located about 45klms south of Hobart in Kingborough, one of the most rapidly growing munipalities in Australia. Some two years ago residents successfully challenged a development application to construct a medical centre on residential land adjacent to the villages heritage precinct.We celebrated our successful challenge as a win for common sense as, whilst our aging population thought it might be good in emergencies to have a doctor on hand, most is not all villagers had long-established relationships with GPs in other nearby locations. Furthermore, the GP that once practiced in the village had left unable to make a satisfactory living.

    Within 12 months, when Federal Government research manufactured a medical crisis in the bush (yes that’s right Woodbridge, a short ride to one of Australia’s state capitals is considered to be bush) our local council called up the doctor, who had instigated the med centre proposal, had the development resurrected and even applied to the Feds for an assistance grant of a six figure sum on the doctors behalf to finance construction.

    176 of us were amazed but not dazed. We sent letters of protest to Julie Collins, now Minister for Community Services, Nicola Roxon, then Minister for Health and also our Council saying thanks but no thanks politely explaining that we thought our tax monies could be better spent in places of greater need. We had an impolite letter back from our Council which criticized us for missing an opportunity and the usual holding replies from the Ministers that were obviously written by secretarys that said very little.

    This sort of thing must go on in other places ….at what cost to us all?..

  • Gillardhater
    10 July, 2012 (12:19 pm)
    Reply

    Julia Gillard was suspected of being involved, when her boyfriend at the time, stole $1m from the AWU. She set up the bank accounts for the stolen money to go into, while working in her first job at Slater and Gordon, but then claimed she didn’t know that it was for stolen monies. However, reports claim that some of that money went to renovating her unit, and buying her some nice new clothes.
    Do you understand now why she supported Craig Thompson for so long? Why is she our Prime Minister, when she is nothing more than a greedy, selfish thief? How can we expect any kind of honest dealings from her at all?
    Once again, she is renovating the lodge, while cutting unemployed workers off welfare. If this work needed to be done so badly, why wasn’t it done while we were in the black, and not while we are in the red? I also wonder how much her new look cost the tax payer, all that botox and elocution lessons?
    Centrelink offices are being extensively renovated, while employment agencies fail to do their jobs, and instead rort the system for millions of dollars each year. While our sick and unemployed are being kicked off welfare payments, just when it is needed the most in this country. The foul methods being employed by Centrelink and employment agency staff, to deny people a payment, are not only corrupt, but illegal. Yet their staff continue to get away with doing it, and are protected from punishment, because Juliar wants all the money for herself. When was there a referendum held which voted to dismantle the welfare system, which is part of our constitution? If there was not one, they have no right to be doing what they have already embarked on.
    A campaign for transparency is a great idea, as is the software to run it. You have my full support on this.

  • Johno
    2 October, 2012 (1:59 pm)
    Reply

    One of the best posts on the website. Transparency portals should be a policy priority. I only wish Australian voters and interest groups would put this on the agenda. Improved transparency of this kind should always be a major election issue!

    Note: I don’t know what all these other comments are on about when they single out Labor and Gillard. The Liberals are just as bad with openness and just as uninterested in this kind of policy (except Turnbull – I think he expressed interest in this kind of policy when opposition leader). If we so easily let our partisanships blind us, then we are only asking to be stuffed again – just this time by a Liberal government.

    • Danno
      22 November, 2012 (12:15 pm)
      Reply

      Yes Johno,

      You may be right about the libs but at least they try and “conserv” for the “rainy” days, ie Global Malfunction. I distinctly remember Howard warning everyone that sure everything looks rosey at present but be careful with your financial commitments. He and Costello, love them or hate them, saw the writing on the wall and governed with this in mind. All I’ve seen from this latest crowd is waste upon waste, mismanagement time and time again, and corrupt cover ups for its corrupt members. BRING IN THE TRANSPARENCY. And if either of these 2 partys don’t have a clear clean leader, then GET ONE!

    • Samuel Kyrikos
      22 November, 2012 (4:46 pm)
      Reply

      I am more than convinced, based on the latest information to hand that our ‘temporary’ prime minister is about to lose more than her shoe and very very soon. Isn’t that correct, Gingerella? I am utterly disgusted at this minority ‘governments’ record of abject failure, its wanton cover-ups, lies, lies and its damned useless labor/greens/turncoat ‘politicians.’ Then there is the disgraceful waste of hard earned taxpayer funds thrown around like confetti i.e. $1 Billion dollars of borrowed money donated to Afghanistan plus a large undisclosed payment by the Gillard clan to the terror group Hamas. And the list of abject waste of funds goes on and on! This is the worst ‘government’ since Federation in 1901 and I trust none of its members are never, ever again given the mantle of Government anywhere in this country!

  • tectonic shift
    22 November, 2012 (12:07 pm)
    Reply

    Legislate for TRANSPARENCY. When do we want it ? We want it NOW.
    A scoreboard of Taxpayer outgoings could well become the VOTERS criteria at elections.
    Government must be held accountable for every red cent spent.
    Treasury costings should be subject to & verified by an external audit
    Exceptions to spending outside of Budgeted amounts should be justified by an INDEPENDENT Tribunal.
    Upon taking Govt; all spending must be limited to pre-election promises exclusively. e.g.Bureaucracy building in Environment ( Co2 ); in Communications (NBN) ; Immigration (Detention Centres).
    All major media outlets including the ABC mandated to publish monthly Expenditure figures under FOI.

  • Jon
    22 November, 2012 (12:29 pm)
    Reply

    I’m spitting chips at Labor’s new proposal today to introduce bridging visas to the thousands of illegals thronging our detention centres. How much is that going to cost? Not only in money terms but also to the detriment of the social fabric. $440 a fortnight handout, with no permission to work nor accommodation in our urban areas has to lead to criminal activities. Another own goal for Labor! Turn back the boats!

  • Fred Bennett
    22 November, 2012 (12:45 pm)
    Reply

    I have been watching your posts and decicing whether to support your organisation. Your Transparency Portal proposal has won me. As a retired public servant I am familiar with the use of budget papers and other government documentation but a recent attempt to put together a consolidated estimate of expenditure on one particular aspect of Federal Government expenditure left me frustrated and angry. The current mix of accrual and cash accounting; the splitting of expenditure on a single subject across portfolios; the lack of consistency in the presentation of data in departmental annual reports; the prevalence of spin in program titles; the shifting of expenditure back and forth between accounting periods (particlarly egregious in the 2012 – 2013 budget); and the shifting of much expenditure off budget make it impossible for an outsider to make meaningful estimates.

    • GLENDA PALMER
      27 November, 2012 (11:51 am)
      Reply

      Dear Fred

      Well fancy, that’s how ‘they’ do it is it? Moving money from here to there to hide this and that, particularly their incompetence. One only has to look at the wastage so far in this government’s incumbency to KNOW they are appalling managers of taxpayers’ money – from a $60billion windfall that was in the coffers when they took over to $100billion in the red. How good is that???
      I have said for years that governments should, like businesses, publish their balance sheets. Only occasionally does someone leak information on wasteful spending and sending millions and millions of dollars to other countries when our own nation has 80,000 Australians sleeping on the streets. What I’d like to know also is how much does it cost the taxpayer to fund the offices, staff and transport of ex-PMs (six of ’em and one so doddery he couldn’t possibly contribute anything to society) so they can sit in their offices and write their memoirs. I read one estimate, years ago, that governments cost Australia $30billion a year. I’d like to know what it currently is.
      Glenda

  • HelenB
    22 November, 2012 (1:23 pm)
    Reply

    I especially would like to remove all “commercial in confidence” tags from any contract or agreement with a government department, state or federal, or quango, or any other body which is funded from the public purse. All such government commitments, contracts and agreements should be transparent, and as you so rightly say, be accessible on the Internet. Clearly those who end up in the parliamentary seats, by whatever means, cannot be trusted with public money.

  • Trevor James
    22 November, 2012 (2:16 pm)
    Reply

    The Federal Labor Government can’t be trusted to run Australia in our interest. Julia will do anything to stay in power; from lying, to stabbing people in the back, to making ridiculous concessions to the Greens & promising independent politicians big handouts to their electorates if they vote for her party. Most Australians don’t want a Carbon Tax and we all know now that it will cost us money but won’t make any different to the nations CO2 emissions. Did you know that the biggest emitter in Victoria, which is Hazelwood Power Station is not being shut down. But that doesn’t matter much because trees love CO2 and give off Oxygen for us to breathe . And why are we being forced to switch over to the ridiculously expensive NBN, when most of us are happy with ADSL2. Why weren’t we told before the decision was made that Telstra would be given $11,000,000,000 (yes 11 billion dollars) to rip up the copper phone lines to force us to use the more expensive optical fibre for our phone and internet use, instead of using fibre to the node as proposed by the experts. (Or satellite as used in America.) Julia can’t even stop the boats which is costing us tax payers a fortune. We don’t want these illegal boat people who destroy passports and lie to get here. Most don’t speak English and will end up on the dole at our expense. Many will never adapt to the Australian way of life and the more radical Muslims are a security risk to the nation.

  • Mike the Tyke
    22 November, 2012 (3:39 pm)
    Reply

    What do politicians have to hide if they truly have our interests at heart?
    One can only assume they are hiding information about how our taxes are spent because they know we would likely be critical and opposed to it , or they are wholly embarrassed by their self recognized incompetence. Either way they have no right to hide anything from the electorate.

  • George
    22 November, 2012 (7:12 pm)
    Reply

    I am 66 years of age, never before in my life have I seen Australians so dependant.
    We feel powerless , we sit and wait like good little strangled TAX Payers and complain to each other.
    We have to wait till late 2013 to Hopefully get rid of these incompetent , thieving , socialist ,DESTROYERS of our way of life in this country that has been created out of nothing by blood, sweat and tears.
    Yes we need to know where our money is going because these EVIL people in the Labour , Greens , Independents are sending us down the road.
    $500 million to get a temporary seat on the UN Security Council , meanwhile the Australian Heart Foundation begs for donations because the Federal Government gives them nothing.
    Ladies and Gentlemen what a Bloody Joke.

  • andy
    22 November, 2012 (8:38 pm)
    Reply

    how about we put security cameras on politicians. They are working for us, we have the right to know what they are doing

  • Heather R.
    23 November, 2012 (9:55 am)
    Reply

    Any move to make these incompetants in Canberra accountable to the people of Australia has to be a good thing. They are totally useless, and are destroying Australia. Open the windows and let the people see the extent of the rot ! Of course the polls say Abbott is not liked- labour voters resent the spotlight he shines on them- they would love to see him discredited. Bring on an election before we sink in the deficit they have created!

  • doug night
    23 November, 2012 (12:28 pm)
    Reply

    We should be taking the power back to create our own currency, MOST of our taxes go to paying of the debt from the monies the government is lending, for what ? so rich bankers get richer !!!! Time to take out the trash DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT be relying on just a change of political party to save the day, the two tier party system is inherently corrupt, and they only get to that level of politics by towing the line, it’s all a farce, The reserve bank lends money to the banks and government at a very low percentage, In turn the banks lend it to you at a highly inflated rate, what for, so they can press enter on the computer screen ??? it’s called a fiat currency, it’s fake their is no REAL money left, wake up folks, it’s time for a change in governance, the government on BOTH SIDES have breached our trust, they do not represent us anymore, STOP PLAYING INTO THEIR HANDS AT EVERY ELECTION !!!! Think of it as wrestling, in the ring they look mean and nasty and throw chairs at each other, but behind the scenes they go and have a beer together, and laugh at the people who actually think it’s real, feel sucked in yet ?? you should be !

    • Gaz
      19 April, 2013 (11:47 pm)
      Reply

      Well said Doug!
      Most people around Australia have absolutely NO IDEA that our Govt gave away the right to create money (out of thin air!) to a PRIVATE company, who then lend it to our Govt (and us) and charge interest.

      Imagine, as an example, I am allowed to create the first and only $100 in this country, and then I lend it to our Govt for a 5% interest charge.

      HOW does the Govt (or anyone else!) ever get $105 to pay me back?
      (Remember that I am the only one allowed to create legal money)

      That’s right – it’s impossible!

      Hence we, and every other western country, is drowning in debt – and always will be!

      Our taxes are only just enough to pay back the interest, NOT the loan principle – Hence the ever increasing grab at our income by taxation.
      EVERY time the govt spends money it has to BORROW it from the private bank first – and it knows it can not pay it back!

      Why is this site not educating the public how our money/tax system really works?

      The ONLY way to decrease taxation is to take back the power to create money from the international bankers so we don’t have to pay an impossible interest.

      NO politician has this power (or will – as two US presidents were assassinated for trying it), so the ONLY way it can ever happen is if MANY ordinary people DEMAND IT!

      PS Transparency in Govt spending & contracts is a very noble cause that needs our support also!

  • Vince
    23 November, 2012 (8:22 pm)
    Reply

    I will sign this petition without even bothering to read it – it is about time! Also I think it should go further – there should be an independent Ombudsman to make sure all spending is reported, and it should be audited properly for all to see! After all, it is our money, and if it is used wrongly, it is theft clear and simple!

  • Edward C Pulfer
    24 November, 2012 (9:14 am)
    Reply

    We need to get some control over these people, they behave as if we are of no consequence. We vote them in and then they do just as they like. Judges are another group that need to be scutinized carefully. Grossly inadequate sentances will eventually lead to civil unrest and possibly a police state, (to restore order) or to enslave? Sounds ‘over the top’? Get a copy of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and see where we are heading!

  • Michael Aldred
    26 November, 2012 (8:52 am)
    Reply

    “Sunlight, is the best disinfectant.” [Louis Bradneis, US Supreme Court]
    Do it. Open our political process to never ending sunlight and thereby not only kill off the germs and microbes but also remove the deep and entrenched stench of corruption.


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