The Australian Government is implementing an ambitious deregulation agenda aimed at reducing unnecessary red tape costs on individuals, businesses and community organisations. It applies to any mandatory obligations imposed by legislation, regulations, or quasi-regulations.
To reduce the stock of existing regulation, the Government has put in place a requirement to cut a net $1 billion in regulatory burden every year. To provide a whole-of-Government focus on the deregulation agenda, the Office of Deregulation was created within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on 18 September 2013. The Government has also scheduled two parliamentary sitting days each year dedicated to repealing unnecessary regulation.
The Australian Government’s approach to regulatory policy seeks to ensure that regulation is never adopted as the default solution, but rather introduced as a means of last resort. Policy makers must seek practical solutions, balancing risk with the need for regulatory frameworks that support a stronger, more productive and diverse economy where innovation, investment and jobs are created. To stem the flow of new regulation, all submissions to the Cabinet must undergo an assessment of regulatory impacts along the lines recommended by a guide to regulation, and the cost burden of new regulation must be fully offset by reductions in existing regulatory burden. All new regulations or changes to existing regulations must quantify the regulatory costs imposed on businesses, community organisations and individuals. Regulatory impact analysis requirements are administered by the Office of Best Practice Regulation within the Department of the Prime Minister.
The Australian Government is adopting the principle that, if a system, service or product has been approved under a trusted international standard or risk assessment, its regulators should not impose any additional requirements for approval in Australia unless it can be demonstrated that there is a good reason to do so. This will remove regulatory duplication, reduce costs and delays for businesses and consumers, increase the supply of products into the Australian market and allow regulatory authorities to focus on higher priorities.
Because the way regulators administer regulation can also have a major effect on productivity, the Australian Government has developed a Regulator Performance Framework that will apply from 1 July 2015. This will allow for the comprehensive assessment of regulator performance and their engagement with stakeholders. The Framework is largely based on a report published in 2014 by the Productivity Commission. It will require regulators to look at how they operate and the regulatory burden they create when administering regulation. It will also help to drive cultural change in regulators to encourage them to adopt appropriate regulatory risk-based approaches to their role.
Further information on the Australian Government’s progress in reducing regulation is available in the Australian Government Annual Deregulation Report 2014.
(Fabrizio Di Mascio)