The Business Council welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Regulator Performance Guide consultation, and strongly supports the initiative.
It will be critical for the Guide to be supported by improved accountability to ensure it helps drive meaningful change in regulator performance.
Australia has weathered the dual health and economic crises from the COVID-19 pandemic better than many other countries. Good public health outcomes contributed to relatively good economic performance, together with an innovative large set of temporary fiscal measures. These measures were further supported by regulators who provided pragmatic and flexible solutions to the unique and new challenges faced by businesses.
The economic recovery is underway, but the gains need to be locked in and there will be further challenges on the road ahead, including from an ageing population, shifting global economic forces and increased digitation. Australia's regulatory system - both from a policy and administrative perspective - must be fit-for-purpose to ensure we are ready to tackle these challenges and continue the recovery.
A key component of a strong regulatory system includes regulators that better understand and recognise the commercial realities and challenges that businesses face - particularly around the urgency of critical commercial decisions. Another critical element emphasised by the Guide is a "proportional approach to risk and genuine engagement with regulated entities and the broader community." Regulator culture must reflect an efficient, nationally consistent regulatory environment and the removal of unnecessary red tape. The behaviour of regulators is estimated to account for up to 50 per cent of unnecessary regulatory compliance costs.
The Commonwealth Government is leading the way with the Guide. It provides a template for all states and territories to emulate with their regulators, and should be considered by all jurisdictions.
- The BCA supports the Regulator Performance Guide and its principles. In particular, the shift to a more outcomes-focused and principles-based approach to regulation is welcome. This should include genuine collaboration and consultation with regulated entities.
- The Guide must be supported by an effective accountability mechanism for regulators. This is critical for driving change and shifting the mindset of regulators to a more outcomes-focused and principles-based approach to regulation.
- The Guide could consider three common performance measures across all regulators:
- cost to comply for regulated entities
- time take by regulator to perform key functions e.g. approvals
- degree of certainty within the regulatory process for regulated entities