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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3990


Mr PASIN (Barker) (11:07): I am pleased to have this opportunity today to speak about a topic which is close to my heart, and that is the coalition government's agenda to free Australia from unnecessary and burdensome red tape. In the first instance, I want to commend the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the member for Kooyong, for their respective commitments to the cause of deregulation—an appropriate segue to 26 March 2014, which we all know was this nation's inaugural repeal day. I sensed, as I am sure you did, Mr Deputy Speaker, a nationwide collective sigh of relief on that day, and it is not surprising, because in this space the nation had been effectively holding its breath for six years.

Small businesses provide so much firepower in regional communities like those in my electorate of Barker. I identify very strongly and proudly with family owned businesses in Barker. Indeed, I am pleased to speak here today on their behalf. I cannot help but see the world through the eyes of a small business operator. Growing up, I was surrounded by private enterprise given my father's horticultural and agricultural interests in the lower south-east of South Australia and my mother's longstanding retail fashion businesses on Commercial Street. It is interesting that the road that runs through my hometown of Mount Gambier is indeed named Commercial Street. I expect if those opposite had their way it would be renamed Regulation Road.

In more recent years, when my wife and I established our own legal practice, I came to know firsthand the burdens of overregulation. I know from personal experience that red tape is a weed which grows like an insidious exotic vine—slowly but ever effectively strangling the otherwise healthy organism that it has latched on to. We know that Labor is either unable or unwilling to undertake regular pruning of that weed, to ensure that it never grows out of control. Alas, it is left to the coalition government to remove Labor's overgrown and out-of-control regulatory burden, to create the breathing space that business needs to create investment and jobs. It is our duty to put overregulation, the role of regulators and the compliance costs faced by businesses in the not-for-profit sector under the microscope.

It is easy to see why Labor and the Greens are not all that worried about the way regulatory burden strangles our economy. While Liberals such as me want to create an environment where small business operators can grow and employ more Australians, those on the left are happier to see the growth of those jobs in the public sector. They rejoice when the bureaucracy advertises to employ more staff; that is the only sort of growth they aspire to. On the other hand, I sigh sadly. They think it is great for the insidious vine of red and green tape to grow evermore, slowly strangling private enterprise, strangling small family owned business operators and killing the chance of further growth and job creation. I know these words of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair are often quoted, and I think, sadly, that he is spot on:

It seems to be part of the DNA of regulatory bodies that they acquire their own interests and begin to grow.

I am pleased, if not surprised, that a member of the Labour Party, albeit the British version, was able to make such an observation. I wish more members of the ALP were willing to open their eyes in a similar fashion. As the member for Barker, an electorate which boasts a wonderful and industrious small and medium sized business community, I feel absolutely obliged to stand in this place and represent the needs of those whose hard work makes our proud regional economies tick. From my ongoing conversations with businesses throughout Barker, I know they feel they are being dominated by a culture of compliance and enforcement which stifles productivity. It would be remiss of me not to note also that where regulators have the ability to recover costs for their fees from industry it is industry that bear the impost of regulatory risk aversion.

On behalf of constituents in Barker, I welcome the federal government's deregulation agenda. The propensity for unnecessary risk-averse regulation requires cultural change. Thankfully, that change has started, and I am pleased that I was here and participating in the germination that took place on 26 March this year.