In the debate over the merits of last night’s conservative budget, there’s one thing we’d argue Swan did get right – the licensing.

The entire budget has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. This means the material it contains – the deficit strategy, the fiscal aggregates, the government’s responses to the economic crisis – is all available for free reuse, by anyone, for any purpose, as long as the source is attributed.

A single document, even one that’s 350 pages long, may not seem like that big a deal compared to some of the other open government initiatives over the last few years – like the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ entire store of census data under CC. But as a public endorsement of CC as the licence of choice for the Australian Federal Government, it’s huge.

Following the strong support for open access in the government’s response to the Gov 2.0 report last week, this is a great show of the government putting its money where its mouth is (sorry, I couldn’t resist). In fact, the last week has seen the release of three major Federal Government reports – the Budget, the Gov 2.0 response and the NBN Implementation Study – all under CC licences. This seems to be a great indicator that the government really means what it says – open access is going to be the default position for the Australian Federal Government from now on.

Bring on the remixes, mashups and YouTube tributes!

Update: And for those interested, a couple of good articles on the budget’s CC licensing by Craig Thomler and Computerworld.

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