Federal Govt establishes national framework for assurance of AI

A committee of federal and state data and digital ministers have developed and released a national framework for the assurance of artificial intelligence (AI) in government.

A communiqué made on behalf of the 14 ministers, officials and representatives in attendance at a meeting in Darwin said they “endorsed” the framework and its efforts in aligning “governments’ use of AI to ensure ethical, transparent adoption that puts the rights, wellbeing and interests of Australians first”.

The framework provides a nationally recognised approach that builds on and strengthens the pre-established AI Ethics Principles on safe and responsible AI use.

The framework also establishes eight cornerstones that both federal and state governments will be required to consider in their application of AI, based on the principles. These include human, societal and environmental wellbeing; human-centred values; fairness; privacy protection and security; reliability and safety; transparency and explainability; contestability; and accountability.

“Artificial intelligence (AI), while not new, is a transformative technology undergoing accelerated development and adoption. It presents great opportunities for all levels of government to transform public service delivery and enhance societal, economic and environmental wellbeing,” the data and digital ministers said.

“However, we know there are risks with governments’ use of AI that require careful oversight, including legal, privacy, security and ethical risks such as bias and fairness. The importance of managing these risks has been outlined in the Australian Government’s interim response to the safe and responsible use of AI consultation.

“We recognise that public confidence and trust is essential to governments embracing the opportunities and realising the full potential of AI. To gain public confidence and trust, we commit to being exemplars in the safe and responsible use of AI.

“This requires a lawful, ethical approach that places the rights, wellbeing and interests of people first. We recognise the scale and nature of AI developments can be uncertain.

“However, by embedding a principles-based approach in this national framework, we commit to flexibility, responsiveness, continuing collaboration and improvement of our AI assurance processes. Our commitment to putting the rights, wellbeing and interests of people first remains steadfast and unchanged.”

The ministers, officials and other representatives in attendance at the meeting were:

  • Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher (Commonwealth)
  • The Hon Bill Shorten MP (Commonwealth)
  • The Hon Jihad Dib MP (New South Wales)
  • The Hon Gabrielle Williams MP (Victoria)
  • The Hon Bart Mellish MP (Queensland)
  • The Hon Stephen Dawson MLC (Western Australia)
  • Mr Chris Steel MLA (Australian Capital Territory)
  • The Hon Selena Uibo MLA (Northern Territory)
  • Hon Michelle Rowland MP
  • Ms Dot West OAM
  • Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker

Ministers in apologies were:

  • Hon Stephen Mullighan MP (South Australia)
  • The Hon Eric Abetz MP (Tasmania)
  • The Hon Judith Collins KC MP (New Zealand)