Australia to appoint its first National Data Commissioner


Australia is looking to create a new national data commissioner role that will be responsible for applying the data reforms presented in the Data Availability and Transparency (DAT) Bill 2020.

The DAT Bill, which is still awaiting passage, seeks to create a scheme of controlled access to public sector data. Under the legislation, data would only be shared for three purposes: Government services delivery, informing government policy and programs, and research and development.

As part of making this new role official, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills and Family Business Stuart Robert announced that Gayle Milnes would become Australia’s first national data commissioner designate once the DAT Bill passes.

The Governor-General will be asked to consider this appointment as a statutory office holder after the Bill’s passage.

Milnes will be responsible for implementing the country’s data sharing and release framework, and oversee the data sharing and release activities of Commonwealth agencies.

“Milnes is an experienced public service leader with an excellent record of driving nationally-significant outcomes in senior Australian Government statutory, data and regulatory roles,” Robert said.

Milnes’ appointment will see Deborah Anton move on from her role as interim National Data Commissioner.

Prior to the appointment, Milnes was the first assistant secretary of the Data, Analytics and Policy Division at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. She has also held other senior leadership positions across the Australian Public Service, such as CEO of the Climate Change Authority.

If appointed to the statutory office, Milnes would be appointed for a period of five years.

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