Giant Step on Red Tape Reinforces Pressure on States

The Business Council of Australia welcomes the final federal government response to the Banks Taskforce report on reducing business red tape as a giant step forward for Australia’s economic efficiency.

“We are very pleased the government has agreed in full or in part to 158 of the 178 recommendations contained in Rethinking Regulation: Report of the Taskforce on Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Business,” BCA CEO Katie Lahey said.

“We particularly welcome the measures for tougher rules for making new regulation, which will limit the growth of unnecessary red tape in the future,” Ms Lahey said.

“The BCA has led calls for action on red tape since releasing its red tape reform action plan in 2005, and after conducting an audit last year which found regulation was growing three times faster than Australia’s economic growth rate.

“Today the federal government has responded to these calls with a comprehensive set of measures to reduce the red tape burden on business so that the economy can grow faster and create opportunities for a larger number of Australians,” she said.

Ms Lahey also noted that the announcement by the Treasurer, Mr Costello, included measures to require new regulation to undergo a cost—benefit analysis and to be screened at least every five years to ensure regulations remained efficient. The BCA also welcomes the establishment of the Office of Best Practice Regulation.

“We also appreciate the government’s commitment to reducing the amount of business reporting.

“The government has adopted key proposals recommended by the BCA as part of our overall package of reforms. Today’s announcement recognises and supports the contribution a vibrant business sector makes to Australia, and should improve the competitiveness of Australian business,” Ms Lahey said.

“But the ultimate effectiveness of moves by the federal government to rein in regulation will be limited if the states and territories fail to follow Canberra’s lead and adopt their own major red tape reform programs.

“While significant progress has now been made on red tape with this announcement today, it is also vital the states now work closely with Canberra to adopt a coordinated approach for cutting red tape across Australia,” she said.

While some states have taken steps to cut their own red tape, a unified approach is required to prevent overlap and duplication across all levels of government.

“A national commitment to red tape reform – agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in February – now more than ever needs to be put into practice by all jurisdictions,” Ms Lahey said.

The BCA will now analyse the full breadth of the government response to the taskforce report to inform the development of its continued advocacy on cutting the red tape burden on business. The BCA will also examine progress with implementing today’s announcement in twelve months time.