Statement by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Hon Christian Porter MP

2015 Autumn Repeal Day - Wednesday 18 March 2015

Today—the third repeal day—is another milestone in the Government's commitment to rid the community of unnecessary and costly red tape.

It is now more than a year since we started our concerted plan to reduce the regulatory burden on our society.

We set about changing attitudes towards regulation in government, in business and in the community.

For too long Australian society suffered poorly designed and excessive regulation.

This imposed unnecessary costs on businesses, community organisations, families and individuals. It sabotaged the productivity of Australian businesses, deterred investment and undermined jobs and growth.

Australia needed change and this Government made a commitment to deliver it.

And we are.

We are instituting a cultural shift in thinking about regulation.

There is no doubt that cutting red tape is a challenging task.

The Government's focus is now on striking the right balance between the necessary regulation that supports markets, innovation and investment in our economy, while protecting the community; and removing the duplicated or unnecessary and excessively costly red tape.

The red tape reduction programme which the Government has instituted has meant significant transformation across the Australian Public Service.

Every Cabinet submission must now be accompanied by a Regulation Impact Statement to assess the costs and benefits of policy options.

Deregulation Units—tasked with identifying and driving red tape reduction across the Commonwealth—now exist in every portfolio.

An Australian Government Guide to Regulation and a Regulator Performance Framework have been developed to assist policy makers and regulators with their policy design and implementation process.

We are further committed to work with states and territories to reduce red tape across all levels of government.

And the Commonwealth has a clear and measurable commitment to reduce the cost of complying with Commonwealth regulations by making new decisions to cut red tape totalling at least $1 billion net annually.

Since September 2013, Ministers have been working—along with their Ministerial Advisory Councils—to deliver on a range of the Government's red tape commitments.

Today, as a result of these efforts:

  • In Education, we will deliver the platform for a National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy online from 2017
  • In Health, we have removed requirements for psychologists to maintain two sets of records of their continuing professional development activities
  • In Agriculture, we are improving the regulation of stock and pet food products of well-defined risk, reducing the need for these defined risk products to be subject to the same intensive assessment process as high risk AgVet chemical products
  • Telecommunications companies are no longer required to provide repetitive information about Mobile Premium Services. This will lessen the regulatory cost on telecommunications service providers
  • We are also making identity checks even easier for retailers and consumers when purchasing a new prepaid mobile phone, including the ability for retailers to visually check identification documents
  • For individuals, myGov services have been enhanced so that customers can now update their details in one place using the myGov Tell us Once Service, and link Australian JobSearch online accounts to their myGov account to obtain secure and convenient access to online services with a single account and one set of credentials
  • Students who receive payments for Youth Allowance are now able to advise of multiple changes to their details in one transaction online without needing to contact a call centre or attend a service centre
  • We are removing the requirement for heavy vehicle operators of B-double truck combinations registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme to fit additional spray suppression devices. These devices were shown to increase costs but provide no additional safety benefits
  • The Government has expanded use of personal electronic devices in all phases of flight, provided the operator can ensure the aircraft is operated safely. This now allows passengers to use electronic devices for the full duration of flights, providing improvement in productivity time for passengers, in particular business travellers
  • In response to a review of skills programmes by the former Council of Commonwealth, state and territory training ministers, we are reducing the number of existing mandatory reporting obligations.
  • And, as part of the Government's Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda launched in October last year, we adopted a new principle that Australian regulators should not impose additional requirements beyond those that already applied under trusted international regulations, unless it can be demonstrated there is a good reason to do so
    • As part of these changes, Australian manufacturers of medical devices will be able to choose to either have a conformity assessment conducted by the TGA or an alternative conformity assessment body, such as a European notified body. What this means is that Australian manufacturers of all but the highest-risk products will be on equal footing with those from overseas. In many cases, this could allow locally-made medical devices to get to market more quickly.

These are just a handful of examples and the Government's efforts have not stopped yet.

We have set a target of removing $1 billion worth of regulation each year in 2014, 2015 and 2016. To underpin this clear and measurable approach to reducing the cost of red tape, upon coming to Government, we set about the task of undertaking a stocktake of the Commonwealth Government's total regulatory footprint.

Remarkably, this is one of the few times that any jurisdiction in the world has engaged in a rigorous and consistent process which allows for an accurate assessment of the total cost a national government imposes on an economy.

For the first time in Australian history, a Commonwealth government has undertaken a complete and accurate stocktake of all Commonwealth regulatory costs. We are also consistently measuring and reducing those regulatory costs to reverse the growing burden of red tape on the Australian economy.

Having an accurate measure of the Commonwealth regulatory stock means that, for the first time, ministers, departmental secretaries, regulators and policy officers have a detailed picture of the regulations that the Commonwealth Government has instituted, through its many pieces of primary legislation, thousands of subordinate instruments and tens of thousands of quasi-regulations.

Today, in tabling the Government's inaugural Annual Deregulation Report to the Parliament, we now know that the situation inherited by this Government was that, annual costs to business and individuals of complying with Commonwealth regulations is estimated to be around $65 billion per annum.

Further, this is the first time in Australian history that a Commonwealth government has, with a very high degree of accuracy, publicly reported to Parliament, the total amount and cost of Commonwealth regulation.

Australia now has its most precise, comprehensive and transparent programme to reverse the growing costs of red tape on the Australian economy.

Being the first Australian Government to achieve a thorough, accurate and reliable picture of the stock and cost of Commonwealth regulation offers very significant economic opportunities.

In undertaking a thorough and consistent stocktake of all Commonwealth regulatory costs, the Government has developed a map of the Commonwealth regulatory environment.

This now underpins what is proving to be a very successful programme of significant reductions to the regulatory costs imposed on the Australian economy.

The stocktake measuring process prompts a better understanding of well-designed regulation and poorly designed regulation. And further, the stocktake measurement process provides the opportunity for Ministers, policy makers, and regulators to reassess regulation and to work with businesses, community organisations, families and individuals on how to best assist them.

The Government is absolutely committed to the ongoing task of identifying unnecessary regulations, remove them and to make sure that necessary regulation is administered in the least burdensome manner.

The reduction of red tape is not just about what we do within our own border. It is also about how other countries—potential investors or importers—view us in terms of the ease of doing business in Australia.

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index, Australia's competitiveness ranking has declined over the last decade.

In 2013-14, the Australian economy ranked 21st out of 148 economies.

When questioned specifically about the 'burden of government regulation', the perceptions of those surveyed were that Australia was well behind in terms of global best practice.

This is a perception that must be directly addressed for a country that is telling the world we are open for business.

Each repeal day is an opportunity to reduce or eliminate regulation and legislation that has outlived its usefulness or does more harm than good. It is also an opportunity to measure the cumulative effect of the many decisions to reduce red tape that the Coalition Government has progressed since the last repeal day, and since the start of our concerted plan.

Last year, the Government identified an estimated $2.3 billion in net red tape and regulatory savings. This was more than double the annual target the Government promised to deliver.

Today the Government also announced that the total deregulatory saving since September 2013, is $2.45 billion. This is a significant achievement, and one that has real, positive impact on businesses, community organisations and families.

2015 marks a new year of making Australia more competitive and the commitment to work toward a new $1 billion deregulatory target by the Australian Government.

Today the Government builds on the last two repeal days by announcing 890 Acts and 160 legislative instruments will be scrapped as a result of this third red tape repeal day.

The core purpose of the Government's red tape objective is to ensure that its deregulatory decisions, when implemented, will substantially minimize the cost of complying with Commonwealth regulations.

To help achieve this outcome, this Government is committed to continue to actively stem the flow of new regulations and to reduce the stock of regulations it administers.

I am also proud to table the inaugural Annual Deregulation Report today because it shows excellent progress towards this Government's objectives to free business, community organisations, families and individuals of the burden of excessive red tape.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and express my gratitude to my predecessor, current Assistant Treasurer, the Honourable Josh Frydenberg MP, and others for all the excellent work and the time and efforts that went into delivering the Government's red tape reduction objectives over 2013 and 2014.

We will continue to reach into every corner of the Australian economy to find outdated and unnecessary legislation and policies which mean time and effort for business, but no value for them or for consumers.

We are unshackling Australian business so they can innovate, grow and create more jobs for more Australians. Reducing regulatory burden is, part of the Government's greater plan to build a healthy, resilient economy.