On 11 October 2016, the Senate established the Select Committee on Red
Tape (committee) to inquire into and report on the effect of restrictions and
prohibitions on business (red tape) on the economy and community, by 1 December 2017,
with particular reference to:
effects on compliance costs (in hours and money), economic output, employment
and government revenue, with particular attention to industries, such as
mining, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, and small business;
specific areas of red tape that are particularly burdensome, complex, redundant
or duplicated across jurisdictions;
impact on health, safety and economic opportunity, particularly for the
low-skilled and disadvantaged;
effectiveness of the Abbott, Turnbull and previous governments' efforts to
reduce red tape;
adequacy of current institutional structures (such as Regulation Impact
Statements, the Office of Best Practice Regulation and red tape repeal days)
for achieving genuine and permanent reductions to red tape;
institutional arrangements to reduce red tape, including providing subsidies or
tax concessions to businesses to achieve outcomes currently achieved through
different jurisdictions in Australia and internationally have attempted to
reduce red tape; and
The committee decided to conduct the inquiry by focusing on specific
areas. In 2017, the committee tabled three interim reports about the effect of
red tape on: the sale, supply and taxation of alcohol; tobacco retail; and
environmental assessment and approvals.
On 28 November 2017, the Senate extended the reporting date to 3
Since then, the committee tabled a further five interim reports about the
effect of red tape on: pharmacy rules; health services; childcare; occupational
licensing; and private education.
The interim reports presented the committee's findings, conclusions and
recommendations, which are referred to as necessary throughout this report. The interim
reports can be accessed online at the committee's website.
This is the ninth and final report for the committee, and examines the
policy and process to limit and reduce red tape (policy and process inquiry).
Conduct of the policy and process inquiry
The committee advertised the policy and process inquiry on its website
and wrote to a number of organisations, inviting submissions by 19 October 2018.
The committee continued to accept submissions received after this date. In
total, the committee received 15 submissions, which are listed at Appendix
1. The committee held a public hearing in Sydney on 2 November 2018 and the witnesses
who appeared before the committee are listed at Appendix 2. The committee
thanks the individuals and organisations, who made submissions and gave
evidence to assist the committee with its policy and process inquiry.
Scope of the report
Chapter one provides information on establishment and conduct of the
policy and process inquiry, and key objectives of the Deregulation Agenda.
Chapter two then examines some of the information presented to the committee,
before presenting the committee's findings and recommendations.
Deregulation Agenda and its key
In 2013, the Australian Government introduced its Deregulation Agenda,
a policy aimed at reducing red tape, boosting productivity and
strengthening the economy.
The Coalition's Red Tape Reduction Taskforce explained:
Excessive regulation or 'red tape' stifles job creation,
reduces investment, lowers innovation and lessens productivity. Red tape refers
to the counterproductive restrictions or reporting requirements placed on individuals,
businesses and organisations that deliver less public benefit than the costs of
complying with and enforcing those restrictions or reporting requirements.
The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister (Parliamentary Secretary), emphasised the urgent need for deregulation,
describing an increased level of regulation, decline in productivity and a fall
in global competitiveness rankings since 2007. In 2013–2014, Australia ranked
21st on the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index and
128th for burden of government regulation.
The Parliamentary Secretary stated:
[The] scandalous culture of piling on new regulations without
assessing the consequences for productivity, and the costs involved, must now
come to an end. We need a new approach.
Key objectives of the Deregulation
The Deregulation Agenda comprises five levels of reform:
reduction in the volume of regulation;
elimination of duplication/overlap between different levels of government;
improved quality of consultations between government and
rigorous and mandatory post implementation reviews; and
transparency, accountability and efficiency in administration of
According to the Parliamentary Secretary, successful reform will deliver
significant cost savings for the Australian economy:
The Productivity Commission has estimated that regulatory
compliance costs could be as high as four per cent of [Gross Domestic Product, GDP]
and by removing inefficient regulation savings could be up to 1.6 per cent of
GDP. In terms of Australia's current GDP, of around 1.5 trillion, the benefit
to the economy from reducing regulation could be anywhere between 12 billion
and 24 billion a year.
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