New Requirements for Regulation Must Be Followed

The final response to the independent review of the federal government’s Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) process, released today, is another important step in getting the regulation-making process back on track.

“This is particularly important at a time when the Australian economy is experiencing significant structural changes, as there are substantial costs to businesses and the community if scarce resources are unnecessarily tied up in regulation,” Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Regulatory reforms are crucial to kick-starting Australia’s productivity growth, enhancing our competitiveness and advancing on the government’s target of being in the top five most efficiently regulated places in the world.

“With Australia currently ranking 96th out of 144 nations for regulatory burden according to the World Economic Forum, a more disciplined approach to regulatory gatekeeping is critical.

“The Business Council is a strong supporter of the two-stage Regulatory Impact Analysis process, which allows for more careful consideration of whether new regulation is the best way to tackle a problem or achieve a policy objective.

“The two-stage approach also gives the opportunity for key stakeholders to be brought into the regulatory process and is a key element of the Business Council’s recently released Standards for Rule Making. Such a process should facilitate a more careful and considered examination of the issues before the government becomes locked in to regulation.”

The Business Council of Australia strongly supports other reforms announced today, including:

  • the tightening up of exemptions so that RIA processes are mandatory unless the impact on business is minor
  • improved Annual Regulatory Plans, to promote a more strategic approach to regulation and give business a heads-up on regulation under consideration in the upcoming year
  • some initial steps in enhancing the accountability framework for regulators, which may assist in encouraging better administration by regulators.

“It is now up to ministers and agencies to commit to these new processes, which will ultimately fail unless there is a cultural change in the way that regulators commit to and engage in due process for regulation making.

“The government’s announcement today is a model for all governments, state and federal, but what it requires for ultimate success is a ‘hearts-and-minds’ culture change by ministers, their agencies and regulators to a more sensible and balanced approach to making regulation in Australia.”