Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Government online consultation: better but insufficient

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-10

The process for making submissions to Senate inquiries has been augmented, which is welcome, but there are significant shortcomings which I hope will be addressed soon.

The electronic submissions system ( allows you to register your details (, and then proceed through a menu of committee, then inquiry, then upload the file containing your submission.

The flaws I perceived very quickly (and thus give a 6/10 score to the changes) are…

  • When registering, your account is identified by your email, and you select whether you are acting as a private individual or for an organization.  This shows poor information analysis, as the choice should be available on a submission by submission basis, and indeed a person might make different submissions representing more than one organization.
  • There is very poor granularity of control over what information about you is made public: you may want the public to have access to your name and postal address, but prevent release of email and phone numbers, or indeed any combination of requirements for this personal information.
  • The system does not allow entry of a short submission via a text field on a web form (required if you only have access to a computer at an internet kiosk), nor does it allow the upload of text, html, or international standard office documents (ODF).  While PDF files (a reasonable option), the only other choices are Microsoft proprietary formats (*.doc and *.docx).
  • There is no menu-driven means to navigate by the inquiry name, or the name of the bill: you need to know the committee first.

Comments about the utility of the website can be sent to, while accessibility problems should be addressed to the Parliamentary Web Manager (

You can be certain I’ll be emailing more extensive notes about these perceived inadequacies to those addresses.

Bottom line: An improvement, but could and should do much better.


3 Responses to “Government online consultation: better but insufficient”

  1. […] For details, refer to my previous post containing observations about the bill and details of how to make submissions, and the one about the new web-based submissions process. […]

  2. […] on Nature should be declaredSenate inquiry on human rights improvementsThe definitive Windy defenceGovernment online consultation: better but insufficientProzac/SSRIs during pregnancy risks your child getting depression, bipolar et alFunnier than a fart […]

  3. […] Arts wants nothing to do with the new Senate Submissions application (which I initially reviewed here) because the committee knows it is an absolute dog and wants nothing to do with it, or that dog is […]

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