Former competition watchdog Rod Sims will chair the council tasked with advising the National Data Commissioner on issues relating to the federal government’s new data sharing scheme.
Mr Sims, who spent a decade as chair of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) before his departure last year, was appointed chair of the National Data Advisory Council on Tuesday.
He will be joined on the council by new members Research Australia director Professor Greg Kaplan, Xero executive general manager Dr Kendra Vant and Dr Kalinda Griffiths, a Scentia Fellow at the University of NSW’s Centre for Big Data Research.
Existing members of the advisory council, which first met in June 2022, include Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley, Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk and Australian Statistician Dr David Gruen.
The National Data Advisory Council provides advice to National Data Commissioner on the public sector data sharing scheme, including on ethics, balancing data availability with privacy, trust and transparency and technical best practice.
The scheme was introduced with last year’s Data Availability and Transparency Act (DATA), which passed into law in March 2022 after then-Shadow Minister for Government Service Bill Shorten secured a series of amendments to exclude the private sector and non-Australian organisations.
It offers agencies an optional pathway to share data with each other and universities for the purposes of service delivery, policy, and research and development. It has been “open for business” since July 2022.
Announcing the appointments on Tuesday, National Data Commissioner Gayle Milnes said she was delighted to have Mr Sims join the council as Chair following his extensive experience as a former competition watchdog.
“Rod’s leadership in regulation and commitment to protecting Australians during his more than 10 years as Chair of the ACCC, combined with his deep public policy expertise, makes him a great fit for the role,” she said.
Outgoing council members are Australian National University (ANU) School of Cybernetics Associate Professor Ellen Broad, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods associate director Professor Nicholas Biddle and University of Technology Sydney AI governance researcher Lauren Solomon.
“Across the council, our members bring diverse skills and expertise on data and digital, including indigenous data, relation and public policy issues,” Ms Milnes added.
The Office of the National Data Commissioner is continuing to add services on Dataplace, which is the government’s new single front door for government agencies and universities to request access to data. More than 40 organisations are in the process of being onboarded.
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The 1960s were the start of the Data Processing (DP) era. By the 80s it had evolved into Information Management (IM), and then in the Naughties it became Business Intelligence (BI). Somehow, no idea how, in 2020 it got in a time ship and went back 60 years to Data. Imagine, the Internet era took us back 60 years to “data”. Now we have a Data advisory council, and data management, data sciences and data policies. There’s even BIG data. Next it will be Beatles haircuts and black-n-white TV. Maybe Rod Sims can drag us into the future. Just to be clear, Rod studied commerce at Melbourne Uni and later did a Master of Economics degree. There’s no DP, IM, BI or data in either qualification.