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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6806

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (11:38): I thank the member for Herbert for those important questions. I will leave the questions in the Indigenous space to my colleague the member for Aston. The member for Herbert is absolutely right: this is not just a whole-of-government approach to deregulation at the federal level but also very much involving the states. The Prime Minister has said that deregulation will become a standing item on the agenda at COAG, which will be used as the primary body for driving reform at the federal and state levels.

At the last COAG meeting in the first week of May they all discussed deregulation in relation to a number of areas. Those areas included housing and commercial building construction; road freight; food and dairy manufacturing and fish processing; tourism business licensing—which will be very important in your electorate of Herbert, particularly around Townsville; rules as they relate to cafes and restaurants; and gas and resources exploration. They have divided up these areas among the various states for them to take responsibility for doing a deep dive in the particular area and bringing forward ideas where there is federal-state overlap in regulation.

We are very determined that, to be successful on the deregulation front, we not only get changes done at the federal level but drive changes at the state level so that, as the member for Herbert mentioned, the states do not just introduce new regulations to make up for the federal government's reduction in regulations. You need to understand that we are extremely focused on this. A number of states like Victoria have a red tape commissioner and they are driving changes. I have met with Deb Frecklington, the assistant minister for finance with responsibility for deregulation in Queensland, your home state. We are driving this agenda forward together. As the member for Herbert rightly mentioned, in the area of environmental approvals we were able to get MOUs signed with every state and territory. Those opposite would like to know that the Labor state of South Australia and the ACT also signed on to these MOUs and Greg Hunt has been moving forward to get full agreements, particularly with Queensland and New South Wales, in a speedy fashion. So we are moving at a state and a federal level on the deregulation agenda.

The member for Herbert also raised the very important issue of trying to create jobs at a local level through the tendering process. The member for Herbert may be interested to know that one area we have been looking at relates to the federal safety commission because the federal safety commissioner requires, under the legislation, that builders be particularly accredited. What can happen is if Defence Housing is building in remote areas, as it often does, it would want to source builders from the local area, but those local builders may not have the accreditation needed to get that job because going through that accreditation process requires extra costs on their part. That is another example of where those opposite have no understanding of the true impact on job creation at the local level of extra layers of bureaucracy and red tape. So I have met the head of Defence Housing and we are looking at this issue of the federal safety commissioner. Hopefully I will be able to report to the member for Herbert that there has been some progress on this issue. Like him, all my colleagues on this side of the House understand that we need to create jobs in the regions, we need to free up the councils, we need to free up the local builders and we need to ensure that they can get a personal dividend out of our red tape reduction efforts.