Productivity Commission Inquiry – Data Availability and Use

In April 2016, the Productivity Commission (PC) commenced a public inquiry to investigate ways to improve the availability and use of public and private sector data. The PC’s final inquiry report was sent to Government on 31 March 2017 and released publicly on 8 May 2017.

Pleasingly the report recommends that “minimally processed public sector datasets should be made freely available or priced at marginal cost of release.

Where data has been transformed, the transformed dataset may be priced above the marginal cost of release. Data custodians should experiment with low prices initially to gauge the price sensitivity of demand, with a view to sustaining lower prices if demand proves to be reasonably price sensitive” (recommendation 9.3).

While the report does not detail specific databases this would extend to, the recommendation is consistent with ARITA’s submission that open access, free of charge, to relevant Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) data would provide a number of benefits to the business community and the broader economy, namely:

  • enhance the transparency and scrutiny of corporate conduct
  • enhance and facilitate academic and empirical research into corporate conduct, which will inform and promote evidence-based policy and law-making, and
  • remove the anomaly of insolvency practitioners paying ASIC to access data which is required to report to ASIC.

The report also makes a specific recommendation relevant to insolvency practitioners (recommendation 5.3) which concluded that “[o]n the windup of an entity that holds consumer data, consumers should be informed if data to which they hold a joint right has been traded or transferred to another entity. For businesses entering formal insolvency processes, insolvency practitioners should ensure consumers have been informed.”

Final Report: Data Availability and Use

ARITA Submission: Data Availability and Use