A summary view of government cost recovery policies in Australia and New Zealand relating to the supply of public sector information
Cook, John (2010) A summary view of government cost recovery policies in Australia and New Zealand relating to the supply of public sector information. [Working Paper] (Unpublished)
Researching administrative history is problematical. A trail of authoritative documents is often hard to find; and useful summaries can be difficult to organise, especially if source material is in paper formats in geographically dispersed locations. In the absence of documents, the reasons for particular decisions and the rationale underpinning particular policies can be confounded as key personnel advance in their professions and retire. The rationale for past decisions may be lost for practical purposes; and if an organisation’s memory of events is diminished, its learning through experience is also diminished. Publishing this document tries to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort by other researchers that need to venture into how policies of charging for public sector information have been justified. The author compiled this work within a somewhat limited time period and the work does not pretend to be a complete or comprehensive analysis of the issues.-----
A significant part of the role of government is to provide a framework of legally-enforceable rights and obligations that can support individuals and non-government organisations in their lawful activities. Accordingly, claims that governments should be more ‘business-like’ need careful scrutiny. A significant supply of goods and services occurs as non-market activity where neither benefits nor costs are quantified within conventional accounting systems or in terms of money. Where a government decides to provide information as a service; and information from land registries is archetypical, the transactions occur as a political decision made under a direct or a clearly delegated authority of a parliament with the requisite constitutional powers. This is not a market transaction and the language of the market confuses attempts to describe a number of aspects of how governments allocate resources.-----
Cost recovery can be construed as an aspect of taxation that is a sole prerogative of a parliament. The issues are fundamental to political constitutions; but they become more complicated where states cede some taxing powers to a central government as part of a federal system. Nor should the absence of markets be construed necessarily as ‘market failure’ or even ‘government failure’. The absence is often attributable to particular technical, economic and political constraints that preclude the operation of markets. Arguably, greater care is needed in distinguishing between the polity and markets in raising revenues and allocating resources; and that needs to start by removing unhelpful references to ‘business’ in the context of government decision-making.
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|Item Type:||Working Paper|
|Keywords:||pubic sector information, taxation, cost recovery, spatial information|
|Subjects:||Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ECONOMICS (140000) > APPLIED ECONOMICS (140200) > Public Economics- Taxation and Revenue (140215)|
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ECONOMICS (140000) > APPLIED ECONOMICS (140200) > Public Economics- Publically Provided Goods (140214)
|Divisions:||Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law|
Current > Schools > School of Law
|Copyright Owner:||Copyright 2010 John Cook|
|Deposited On:||06 Apr 2010 09:57|
|Last Modified:||10 Jun 2010 00:26|
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