Regulation Repeal Day: Opinion Article in the Daily Telegraph by Jennifer Westacott

This opinion article by Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, was published in the Daily Telegraph on 26 March 2014 under the title ‘Cut Red Tape to Show We Really Mean Business’.

Finally, we’ve reached a turning point in dealing with the high costs and inefficiencies faced by business and consumers every day.

Today is “repeal day”, when the federal parliament will be asked to scrap 9500 unnecessary or counter-productive rules and 1000 redundant laws – an opportunity to get rid of more than 50,000 pages of red tape strangling our economy.

In a nutshell, today’s repeal day is the first of two days the federal government is setting aside in parliament each year specifically devoted to getting rid of rules and regulations that are doing more harm than good in the economy. It is a key part of the government’s election promise to save $1 billion in red tape costs paid by business and the community every year.

How the parliament acts is important for every Australian, because it will show whether it is prepared to take up the opportunity to remove costs and red tape from our economy, rather than adding to it.

It is crucial to remember that good regulation is important and ensures essential protections – rules that work well help make our food, airlines and workplaces safer, and protect the environment.

But a lot of the regulation that has built up might have worthy goals and appealing names but ends up just being poor regulation that adds to the costs faced by every business, costs that have to be passed on to the community for very little benefit.

It’s the cumulative effect of these many poor, unnecessary and inefficient rules that taken together impose deadweight costs on large businesses and crippling costs on smaller and medium sized businesses.

What business, large and small, needs is regulation that works, not gets in the way of growing our economy and creating jobs.

If passed, today’s legislation means aged care facilities will no longer need to waste time getting their buildings certified by both the Commonwealth and the states, time that is better spent making their care as affordable and high quality as possible. Businesses will also be able to save time and money being able to classify videos once, rather than in two separate processes.

Repeal day also means programs helping struggling families with young children will have streamlined paperwork so they can focus more on the families, and less on reporting to government.

Small businesses who sell to government should see their cash flow improved, as they will now be able to make payments more quickly using credit cards.

And our largest investment projects will no longer have government dictating to them that they employ an “Australian Industry Opportunity Officer” – a government person looking for every cent they spend.

Small business people desperately need to spend less time on filling in forms for government, and more time on growing their businesses and employing more people, or spending time with their families. And larger businesses want to employ more people and invest more in developing products, rather than paying for people buried in their compliance departments.

That’s why all of these changes are important to the whole community – the more we can remove these unnecessary rules the more businesses can get on.
Business needs confidence to invest and create jobs, and confidence will be boosted if the parliament demonstrates it is committed to removing, rather than adding to the lead in the saddlebags of the economy.

Of course, this is just the first repeal day – there’s another one in September. Removing poor regulation is one of the best and fastest ways to make the economy stronger.

The government has taken the first, vital step toward this, and now the parliament can do its part and act in the national interest by getting behind today’s repeal day package.