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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1932

Small Business: Regulation and Competitiveness


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (14:34): My question is to the Minister for Small Business. Is the minister aware that Australia is currently ranked 128 out of 148 nations on the World Economic Forum global competitiveness index in terms of our regulatory burden? What is the government doing to cut red and green tape to remove the regulatory burden on the Australian economy? How will that impact on jobs and growth?


Mr BILLSON (DunkleyMinister for Small Business) (14:35): Yes, Member for Mitchell, I am very aware of—horrified, in fact, about—that international ranking of how our economy goes compared to other economies in terms of the regulatory burden within which businesses have to try to create wealth and opportunity. Imagine being impeded by a needless, over-arching red-tape and compliance burden that sees us ranked 128th in terms of regulatory imposts in global economies. So many other countries are doing better than us. We have just heard how the carbon tax is acting as a reverse tariff: as lead in the saddlebag of our industries, particularly the car industry. But let us not overlook the incredible burden and the demoralising impact of the way in which regulatory imposts gum up the economy, sap enterprise, and deny us opportunities to grow and prosper. We are starring in that contest, but that is not a contest we want to win. We need to change that. We need to be far more competitive in terms of the regulatory burden we face.

The Productivity Commission has estimated that about four per cent of our GDP goes to meeting regulatory compliance burdens—four per cent just to meet those imposts! It is anticipated that savings could be of the order of 1½ per cent of our GDP if we could unleash that capacity, where people could invest time and effort in their businesses and enterprises and create opportunities. What an enormous benefit that would be. I am pleased my friend and colleague Josh Frydenberg, the member for Kooyong, is all over this; good luck to him with that work.

In recent times we have seen a belated recognition from Labor. At a time when it implemented 21,000 new and amended regulatory imposts it also went about ignoring all the advice that was available. It also ignored the rigor that needs to come with deciding to implement a regulatory imposition—those impact statements.

Did you know, Madam Speaker, that the previous government exempted itself from about 80 examples where a regulatory impact statement should have been implemented but was not and was simply bypassed? One of the ones I find most staggering is in the paid parental leave scheme. The acting opposition leader, amongst her colleagues, said that they would introduce a paid parental leave scheme and make sure there was no administrative complexity for small business. They failed to do that, and then they boasted about the design of their PPL scheme, deliberately incorporating a burden on small businesses. We went twice to this parliament to have a vote to relieve that regulatory burden on small business and let Centrelink's family assistance office make those payments. The very model that Labor boasted about was so successful in its first six months and Labor voted against it twice.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield is already warned. One more utterance and he is out.

Mr BILLSON: It accused me of being disruptive: that I was trying to confuse the scheme. In fact, the then minister said it was disappointing we were trying to release small business from that regulatory burden. Well, lo and behold, in the election, what happens? Labor announces the policy, which is exactly—

Mr Stephen Jones interjecting

The SPEAKER: And the member for Throsby, also.

Mr BILLSON: the same as the coalition's. Shame on you. You should back our other policy measures and cut the carbon tax as well.