Eminent Australians to Provide Advice on Data Usage

Release Date: 
27 March 2019
Media release

Some of Australia’s most respected and trusted data experts have been appointed to the newly formed National Data Advisory Council, which will provide valuable insights on how to best manage data in the digital age.

The Council, which meets for the first time in Sydney today, will help to guide the Office of the National Data Commissioner on issues such as ethical data usage, building social licence, and technical best practice as Australia’s data sharing and release arrangements undergo major reforms.

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said the Council includes leading minds from academia, industry, government and civil society, including the 2003 Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, and Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

“Data held by Government is a hugely valuable national resource that, when used correctly, can drive innovation and economic growth, help to better inform public policy, and deliver breakthroughs for researchers and scientists,” Minister Keenan said.

“But maintaining public trust is crucial in order to unlock the full potential that our data holds. That is why I’m pleased to have a Council advising us that represents the full range of community views, including those of civil society advocates, researchers and industry.

“I congratulate all Council members on their appointment and trust they will bring diverse perspectives to the challenge of reforming Australia’s data system, in a safe and secure way.”

The inaugural members of the Council are:

  • Associate Professor Nicholas Biddle, a well-known economist and extensive user of integrated public data, whose research includes examining how to deliver economic and social benefits to Australia’s Indigenous population;
  • Ellen Broad, an independent consultant in open data, data sharing and artificial intelligence ethics;
  • Paul McCarney, the Co-Founder of Data Governance Australia with more than 20 years’ experience in data, technology and digital business;
  • Dr Joshua Meltzer, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. who has examined the significance of the internet and cross-border data flows for international trade;
  • Lauren Solomon, CEO of the Consumer Policy Research Centre, an independent, non‑profit, consumer research organisation; and
  • Professor Fiona Stanley AC, 2003 Australian of the Year and distinguished research Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Australia.

The Government members of the council are Australian Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, and Australian Statistician David Kalisch.

The formation of the Council was a key recommendation of the Productivity Commission’s 2017 review of Australia’s data sharing and release arrangements.

The Commission also recommended a new Data Sharing and Release Act to replace the complex web of rules and regulations that have restricted data sharing between government agencies, often for no good reason.

“Work on this legislation is already well advanced and will enshrine the principles of privacy and security, while also ensuring that Australia can continue to capitalise on the enormous benefits that data can deliver when used correctly,” Minister Keenan said.

“Last week, we also released a new Sharing Data Safely package that adopts an internationally-recognised data sharing and protection framework to guide agencies on how to best manage the data they hold.”