Recommendation 7.1

The Australian Government, in consultation with State and Territory governments, should establish a process whereby public (and in some exceptional cases, private) datasets are nominated and designated as National Interest Datasets (NIDs).

This process should be public, driven by the National Data Custodian, and involve:

  • The National Data Custodian accepting nominations for NIDs, assessing their public interest merits and, after consideration by the Government, referring selected nominations to a public scrutiny process. Designation would occur via a disallowable instrument on the recommendation of the National Data Custodian.
  • The establishment of a parliamentary committee, or addition of such a role to the work of an existing parliamentary committee, to conduct public scrutiny of nominations for NIDs.

The process of nomination should be open to the States and Territories in order to cover linked datasets.

This process should be in place by the end of 2018, as part of the legislative package to implement these reforms.

Government response: 

The Government agree in principle with this recommendation.

A framework of high-value datasets is currently under development under the Government’s Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2016-2018. Within this framework, the Government agrees to establish a process to identify, and provide streamlined access to, a special class of high-value datasets, Designated Datasets, that have substantial value for research, innovation, or public policy purposes. These criteria would include that Designated Datasets could be established to overcome impediments such as:

  • high levels of complexity in making data available for use in the public interest e.g. where there are multiple data sources of interest and multiple data custodians, or with conflicting legislation across jurisdictions or sectors
  • specific secrecy provisions in legislation under which the data is collected
  • licensing or other commercial interests in data
  • lack of long term security for the provision of a dataset.

Designation will be established in a new Data Sharing and Release Act, via a disallowable instrument, subject to the parliamentary scrutiny in usual way.

The National Data Commissioner (NDC) will develop guidance on what datasets could be nominated and designated as Designated Datasets, and the criteria for assessing the ‘national interest’ in the datasets. The NDC will develop a process to collect public nominations for Designated Datasets, to be launched within 1 month of the passage of the Data Sharing and Release Bill.

The nomination process will allow for the possibility of linked Commonwealth, State and Territory datasets, subject to agreement between the affected agencies. The NDC will work with State and Territory Governments to establish arrangements for including their data in Designated Datasets.

Lead Agencies: The National Data Commissioner