DISSENTING REPORTS BY LABOR SENATORS TO RED TAPE INQUIRY REPORTS
Effect of red tape on
Labor Senators strongly oppose
the recommendations in this report.
Labor's world-first plain
packaging laws, along with its leadership on tobacco excise and
other preventive health measures, have driven smoking to record
lows. The recently-released National Drug Strategy Household Survey
shows a continued decline in daily smoking, to 12.2 per cent of
Australians. The Survey also shows that just two per cent of
teenagers are smoking—suggesting that the scourge of tobacco could
be eliminated over time.
But the fight is not yet won.
15000 Australians a year still die from smoking-related disease. Anything
that reduces tobacco regulation or re-normalises smoking would add
to this tragic toll.
Labor will continue to
follow the advice of independent experts on this issue—including
the recent advice of the Therapeutic Goods Administration and
National Health and Medical Research Council on e-cigarettes.
Effect of red tape on
environmental assessment and approvals
Labor is committed to
reducing unnecessary red tape and we have always taken a sensible
approach to reducing red tape. In Government, Labor abolished
more than 16 000 Acts and legislative instruments. We lowered
business costs by $4 billion each year as part of our Seamless
National Economy reforms.
Regulations play an
important role in ensuring the Australian economy, environment and
society remains stable and sustainable. Regulation and legislation
also protect consumers and the community, as well as promoting
fair trade and competition by describing the rights of businesses and
business owners when conflicts arise.
exist to make sure development is appropriate and sustainable while
keeping our fragile environment healthy for future generations.
Environment regulation also protects Australia's cultural and heritage
sites. They give business clarity and provide a framework for
decision-making by government and business.
The EPBC Act was introduced
by the Howard Government and is a well-established regulation that
has been applied by both Labor and the conservatives. It is the
reason that world heritage properties such as the Great Barrier
Reef and Uluru-Kata Tjuta are protected. It is the reason national
heritage sites such as the Kimberley and Great Ocean Road are
protected. The EPBC Act also means wetlands of international
importance are not drained and threatened species such as Blue
Whales, Flatback Turtles and Koalas are protected.
The Water Trigger in the
EPBC Act means that the impact of coal seam gas development and
large coal mining development on Australia's precious water
resources is carefully considered.
Labor Senators note that
the EPBC Act is being reviewed in 2019 as per section 522A of
the Act and preliminary work by the Department of the Environment
and Energy has begun. While we disagree with a number of the
recommendations in the Chair's report, this statutory review should
consider opportunities to reduce regulatory burden, including those
identified in Recommendations 9, 13, 14 and 15 of the Chair's
Effect of red tape on
Labor Senators make the following
dissenting report in relation to the Chair's report.
Labor Senators support the
maintenance of effective and evidence based regulation of the early
childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, to safeguard the
quality and safety of all ECEC services and the educational
development of children. The National Quality Framework (NQF) was
agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments in 2009 and
introduced to lift the educational and quality standards of the
sector. Labor Senators strongly support the NQF. The NQF was developed
based on international evidence and best practice. This evidence is
regularly reviewed. The evidence confirms that staff ratios lead to better
educational and safety outcomes for children. Since the introduction
of the NQF, 77 per cent of ECEC services have received a quality
rating of meeting or exceeding the National Quality Standards
(NQS). The NQF is a world leading system that a majority of
witnesses to the inquiry fully endorsed and supported.
Labor Senators believe that
the greatest risk to the viability of ECEC services is this
government's failure to adequately fund the sector, not overly
burdensome regulation. Labor calls on the Government to restore the
$20 million it cut from the NQF funding in the 2018–19 Budget.
This funding supports the safety and compliance work in the states
and territories that supports the NQF. Labor calls onthe Government
to commit funding to the national preschool program for four years
olds—the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early
Childhood Education. The Government has refused to fund the program
beyond the 2019 school year and this is adding to the difficulties
being facedby ECEC services and families.
Labor also notes the
Government's new child care system introduces greater complexity and
red tape to the system for both ECEC services and families.
Families and services now have to account for activity, income,
hours of care, and complete numerous forms to access subsidies from
the Government. Families and services had to re-register for the
new system launch in July 2018 at their own expense, which for
services were considerable in both time and resources.
Effect of red tape on
Labor Senators provide the
following dissenting report on Red Tape (Occupational Licensing).
Labor Senators reject the
premise of the report that occupational licensing reform should
start with a presumption against licensing. The inquiry heard
strong evidence that occupational licensing is beneficial and
necessary to ensure the quality of work performed and the safety
of both workers and consumers.
Labor Senators consider that
the holding of a licence also sends a powerful signal to
consumers, as to the quality and safety of a provider or service.
Labor Senators believe that a tripartite system, involving
government, business and union representatives, is best placed to
consider the quality, skill and safety needs that are inherent in
licensing arrangements, and complemented by a risk-based regulatory
Effect of red tape on
strongly oppose the recommendations in this report.
Vocational Education and Training
and deregulation in the vocational education and training (VET) sector has
been a dismal failure.
repeatedly shown that rent-seeking, and access to government funding in VET
with limited regulation, has led to extreme outbreaks of malfeasance by
unscrupulous private, profit seeking providers.
VET FEE-HELP is
the most recent, but not the only, example of the runaway rorting by
unscrupulous for-profit training providers putting profit before the national
consequence of rorting in the VET sector the reputation of the sector has
been marred by: dismal completion rates; increased course costs; burgeoning
and unfair student debt; insolvency of major private colleges; and predatory
behaviour by unscrupulous registered training organisations to enrol students
and access government funding.
was introduced by the Coalition in 2008 and opened up in 2012. In the five
years under Labor, loans totalled $1.4 billion. Under three years of the
Coalition loans skyrocketed by a further $5.8 billion.
National Audit Office has reported that the Government Actuary assessed that
$1.2 billion of loans were wrongly issued under VET FEE HELP. The number of
people misled and subjected to unfair debts is yet to be determined.
It is estimated
that close to 75 per cent of all VET FEE HELP funding went to private
providers. This included $600 million to just one provider, Careers
Australia, which subsequently went into receivership leaving 18 000 students
stranded without qualifications and holding unfair debts, 1000 employees
robbed of their entitlements, and money owing to suppliers.
In addition to
the scandalous provider behaviour exhibited in the VET sector, there is
evidence that privatisation in VET has led to widespread and persistent
concerns relating to quality, and in particular the development of low
quality training markets driven by low-cost, high-profit provision. For
example the prevalence of low cost, short courses was reported in a series of
strategic reviews by Australian Skills Quality Authority of the aged and
community care, early childhood education and care, and the construction and
It is clear
that sound and fit-for-purpose regulatory standards are fundamental to
ensuring quality delivery and for ensuring consumer protection in vocational
education and training.
If public money
is to flow to educational organisations then those organisations must be of
the highest standards and the bar for entry must be appropriately high.
recognises that the current design of the VET system is flawed. The reliance
on a market to deliver quality vocational education and valued training
qualifications is one of many factors that require close examination and
As such, no
amount of regulatory oversight and intervention will adequately correct the
current problems in the vocational education system. Importantly, regulation
reduction will simply promote reduced oversight and increased exploitation of
Labor will establish an independent and comprehensive inquiry into the
post-secondary education system, ensuring that public TAFEs and universities
sit at the centre of the system as anchoring and publicly accountable
will make recommendations about regulation and consumer protection, in light
of the review of the whole post-secondary education system.
Australia has a
well-established higher education system with a strong public university
sector and a number of quality private providers. Unlike VET, public
universities have not been subject to the same level of private competition
and they have benefited significantly from reforms put in place by a number of
in 2009 to uncap university places (through the demand-driven system) has
been one of the greatest changes seen to higher education in this country in
This reform, in
conjunction with greater funding for access and equity opened the door of
university to more than 200 000 more Australians. Our reforms also saw
increased participation from traditionally underrepresented groups. Between
2008 and 2016, we've seen:
- Low SES undergraduate student enrolments increase by
55 per cent;
- Indigenous undergraduate student enrolments grow by
89 per cent;
- Enrolments of regional and remote students increase
by 48 per cent; and
- Enrolments of undergraduate students with a
disability more than double.
Not only did we
boost participation, the demand-driven system drove innovation in modes of
delivery and industry collaboration. This was noted by the Liberals' 2014
review of the demand-driven system.
In 2011, Labor
introduced a national system of regulation with the creation of the Tertiary
Education Quality and Standards Agency – fundamentally streamlining
regulation of the sector, reducing the number of jurisdictions from nine to
one. The regulatory system was also designed to be proportionate and
Labor believes the
national regulatory system in higher education needs more time to mature. In
order to ensure the settings continue to be fit-for-purpose, we will examine
regulation as part of our once-in-a-generation national inquiry into post
secondary education in Australia.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY LABOR SENATORS TO RED TAPE
Effect of red tape on
Since 1990, the location
rules have been an important part of the regulation of community
pharmacy. Labor supported the extension of these rules in 2015 and
recently supported legislation removing the sunset clause on the
Labor notes the concerns of
some stakeholders about the collection and remittance of GST, and
the associated paperwork burden. The Howard Government introduced
the GST in 1999, and the tax took effect on 1 July 2000. The
nature of the GST is such that collection and remittance of GST
is tasked to business, particularly small businesses.
Labor is sympathetic to the
notion of reducing red tape for small businesses. However, caution
should be exercised in proposals that seek to prioritise one
sector of the economy over others.
Effect of red tape on
Labor Senators make the
following additional comments on the Red Tape (Health Services)
Comment on Recommendation 2 —
Labor Senators are committed to improving preventive health and
primary health care, to help keep Australians healthy and out of
hospital wherever possible. However, Labor Senators note concerns
that allowing insurers to cover out-of-hospital care could undermine
the universality of Medicare and create a two-tiered primary health
care system. Labor Senators also note concerns that introducing a
second major payer into primary health care could have an
inflationary effect, driving up costs for patients and taxpayers.
Comment on Recommendations 3
and 4— Labor has proposed a Productivity Commission inquiry into
the private health system, which would be the most significant
review of private health in 20 years (since the then Industry
Commission's last review). Pending its terms of reference, which
Labor will develop in consultation with experts and the sector,
the inquiry could consider cost drivers for private health
insurance, the regulation of the prostheses market, and other
reform proposals. Labor Senators urge the Government to adopt
Labor's proposal for a Productivity Commission inquiry.