Good Start on Red Tape but More Progress Needed

National progress in cutting red tape could stall if commitments on reform are not translated into concerted action before the end of this year, the BCA has warned in a red tape reform scorecard issued today.

The BCA today released Regulatory Reform: A Scorecard to Measure Australia’s Progress, which it developed to monitor progress on red tape reform by governments Australia-wide.

BCA Chief Executive Ms Katie Lahey said excessive and poorly constructed red tape continued to burden business and put economic growth at risk.

“It is encouraging that the Commonwealth and state governments have all acknowledged that the burgeoning volume of red tape is a major cost and compliance problem for business, and have made commitments to fixing it.

“However, there is a real risk that reform promises will fall over unless governments and their agencies act swiftly and decisively to implement the specific commitments made.”

The scorecard assesses the commitment to red tape reform made by state and federal leaders at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in February.

It also evaluates the recommendations contained in the Rethinking Regulation report of the Banks Taskforce inquiry into the regulatory burden on business and the Commonwealth Government’s interim response to that report.

The assessment recognises that the Commonwealth will not be releasing its final response to the Banks report until the end of July.

The BCA’s overall assessment is that governments have acknowledged the problems and have gone some way towards agreeing on systemic improvements to how regulations are made.

“The Commonwealth in particular has led the way with the comprehensive Banks inquiry. If all the Banks Taskforce recommendations are implemented effectively, significant reform of business regulation will be achieved,” said Ms Lahey.

Ms Lahey called on the Commonwealth Government and COAG to move rapidly to inject more urgency into the implementation process.

She said the BCA was particularly concerned that reform would stall – or fall captive to short-term electoral considerations – unless significant headway was made prior to the end of 2006.

The BCA plans to use a similar model to release an assessment of the progress of state and territory red tape reform later in the year.

Regulatory Reform: A Scorecard to Measure Australia’s Progress