Print ISSN: 2204-1990

Online ISSN: 1323-6903

Volume 17, Issue 2

Volume 17, Issue 2, Summer and Autumn 2011

Federalism in Australia: A Concept in Search of Understanding

Eric Windholz

Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 1-18

This article examines an issue of fundamental importance to both business and government: the nature of Australian federalism. Federalism in Australia is a concept under attack with pejorative labels such as 'dysfunctional', 'inefficient', 'coercive' and 'opportunistic' increasingly being used to describe its practical operation. Language games amidst political debates are part of a healthy democratic polity. However, such labels may also betray a deeper malaise – an inadequate understanding or appreciation of the concept of federalism. This article examines the nature and operation of Australian federalism and builds a useful framework through which the concept can be better understood and its practical operation analysed. This framework reinforces that one of Australian federalism’s key strengths is its flexibility – that there are a number of different modes of federalism from which governments can choose to address a particular policy issue – and that reform initiatives should be designed to leverage this strength, and not proceed on the assumption that there is one optimal or best approach

Diaspora Philanthropy and its Influences: An Australian Perspective

Christopher Baker, Bruno Mascitelli

Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 19-31

Diaspora philanthropy is a growing global phenomenon. A number of international publications in the last decade have begun to examine diaspora philanthropy for what it might tell us about how diaspora communities give. However, there is a dearth of studies relating to diaspora philanthropy within Australia. This exploratory study seeks to address that gap. This study engages with the emerging field of theoretical and empirical enquiry in relation to diaspora philanthropy by seeking to understand aspects of the phenomenon, via reference to three specified diaspora communities within Australia. We find that available data is largely inconsistent and unreliable. Initial evidence indicates that the genesis of a diaspora influences giving practices. We also find evidence that the giving practices of the sample diaspora in this study change in nature with time and the weakening of original ties that accompanies the passing of generations

The Challenges of Polyphony: A Perspective on New Zealand Local Government

Jonathan Barrett

Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 33-44

In modern democracies, just governance is dependent on decision-makers hearing plural citizens’ voices. Recognition of multiple, conflicting, yet equally valid voices may be described as polyphony. New Zealand’s Local Government Act 2002 mandates participation by local residents in the decision-making processes of their councils. Drawing on research into two councils, which manifest distinctly different approaches to citizen participation, this article looks at the challenges for local government engagement with polyphony. First the position of speakers is considered, with focus on the conditions for and barriers to speech in a local community context. Second, consideration is given to the position of intermediaries, those who filter, amplify or otherwise modify others’ voices. Third, the position of decision-making hearers is considered. Finally, an outline is given of how two particular councils engage with the issues raised by polyphony.

Targets for Low SES Participation in Australian Higher Education: Geographical Measures and State Boundaries

Paul Koshy

Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 45-62

This paper examines the measurement of the socio-economic status of Australian higher education students in relation to the Rudd/Gillard Government’s establishment of enrolment targets for higher education providers in regard to students from low socio-economic status ("low SES") backgrounds. In particular, it discusses area measures of socio-economic status – where a student’s status is determined by the postcode or collection district of the student’s permanent residence. In doing so, the paper outlines issues with the relevance of current area measures which use a national benchmark, particularly in the context of geographical constraints on the draw-pool of Australian higher education providers, where students attend institutions in their own state or territory. The paper introduces a new area measure which uses the individual state or territory as a reference point, as opposed to the current national reference point. This is assessed in relation to existing area measures and the recently announced funding policy by the Gillard Government

Small Business Development: A Comparison of Programs in American Cities and Counties

Christopher Atkinson

Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 63-84

This article focuses on local government small business development programs in the United States and their evolution as policy institutions over time, and examines the basis for local government provision of such services. The article examines a variety of race-conscious (minority and women-owned programs) and race-neutral (small business) policy approaches in large counties and cities in the United States, and finds a range of approaches and eligibility standards. While there is diversity in approach, it is not evident that such variety yields optimal results in all cases. The article suggests a need for greater focus on the outcomes of such programs, given resources expended and the political context of the decisions that lead to their creation, to determine whether programs provide ample benefit for cost. This may result in identification of best practices in framing business development initiatives, greater clarity of purpose, and accountability/transparency, leading to more informed and reasonable expectations from the client small business communit

The Viability of a Pre-Filled Income Tax Return System for Malaysia

Idawati Ibrahim, Jeff Pope

Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 85-101

Many countries have made various efforts to reduce tax non-compliance and the related compliance costs. These efforts include a pre-filled return system that no longer requires taxpayers to fill-up their tax return form. The aim of this paper is to examine the viability of a pre-filled return system for Malaysia. Specifically, five critical success factors suggested by the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation Development are examined in the Malaysian context. It is found that the pre-filled return system could prove viable due to the existing accurate withholding system, high integrity taxpayer identifiers and effective use of technology. The biggest challenge is posed by the need for comprehensive systems of third-party reporting to the revenue body and compatible legislative framework. The paper concludes that under the current Malaysian tax structure, a partially pre-filled return system is a more viable choice; a fully pre-filled return system is possible for higher detection of non-compliance.

Corporate Social Responsibility in Sri Lanka: The Impact of Government Influence, Societal Expectations and the 2004 Tsunami

Tilina Dharmaratne, Theo Christopher, Lisa Cullen

Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 103-119

This study examines government influence, changes in societal expectations and the 2004 tsunami on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Sri Lanka, a developing country. Hypotheses are formulated based on legitimacy theory to examine the annual changes in total quantity and categories of CSR disclosures between 2004 and 2007. Four directional hypotheses are used to test the increase in CSR disclosures and the increase in category-specific CSR disclosures based on a disclosure classification system. A null hypothesis is used to test whether the change in CSR disclosures from 2004 to 2005 and from 2005 to 2006 remained relatively constant after 2006. The directional hypotheses and the null hypothesis on the extent of disclosure are supported but the category-specific hypotheses are rejected. This result provides support for legitimacy theory