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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3181

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (12:25): I rise today to speak on this bonfire of bills, which together repeal red tape on businesses and individuals to the value of more than $700 million per year, every year. I want to take this time to highlight the importance of repealing the more than 9,500 unnecessary or counterproductive regulations and 1,000 redundant acts, which equates to more than 50,000 pages being cleaned out of the statue books.

There are many positives in repealing red tape. The financial benefits to individuals and small businesses are certainly substantial; equally as significant is the time and energy that can now be spent on actually delivering front-line services, getting on with the job and productively working, rather than spending aeons climbing mountains of paperwork.

Another major benefit of repealing red tape is that quite simply it is good housekeeping to keep the statue books up to date and functional. Legislation incorporates the norms by which society operates, and its availability in an up-to-date, accessible and coherent form is crucial for the orderly and effective functioning of society and in particular for the rule of law.

From the perspective of both the nation and its citizens, it is vital that up-to-date versions of legislation relevant to an issue that concerns them are capable of being identified and accessed. If legislation is not readily and immediately accessible, finding it will prove to be a task that is beyond not only lay people but also experienced lawyers. In an ideal world, legislation should be published in a manner that will facilitate its being identified and located by members of the public. Ensuring this outcome should be relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, this is by no means always the case, as I shall try to detail.

An initial problem faced by someone searching for the relevant legislation on a particular topic is that it is not necessarily to be found in one act. In many cases, the relevant provisions are scattered among a number of statutes and statutory rules and, quite probably, judicial decisions. In most common-law countries, the practice has been to publish statues and statutory rules in annual columns. Normally, each volume will consist of public general acts arranged in the order of enactment, with any private acts being included separately at the end of the volume which are not updated or revised, although in some common-law countries it has been the practice to issue annual publications containing annotations setting out amendments to earlier statutes.

Statues that are repealed, become spent or otherwise lose their force are not excised. Unless there is a mechanism for revising and republishing amended statutes, users of those statutes are faced with considerable difficulty in finding out what legislative provisions are relevant to them. Moreover, having found what may appear to be the provisions that concern them, they cannot rest on their laurels; they still have to check to see whether, and to what extent, those provisions have been affected by subsequent legislation.

If legislation is not kept up-to-date, the task of researching it is unnecessarily difficult and demanding, and requires much time, resources and enthusiasm. The problem is alleviated in those jurisdictions where indexes and annotations of statutes are maintained. And, in recent years, the publication in most common-law jurisdictions of electronic versions of statutes and statutory rules also make it easier to access legislation.

There are so many advantages to reducing the burden of red tape. I am proud to stand on this side of the chamber where the coalition government has held true to its deregulatory policy agenda, unlike those opposite who imposed more than 21,000 new regulations in the six years they were in government.

Members of my constituency constantly approach me with ideas for reducing regulation in their sector, whether it be reducing the duplication of regulation between the three levels of government or simplifying the compliance costs of simply doing business. The Abbott government understands that small government is good government. It cannot go unnoticed that, in just six months in government, the coalition has managed to find more than $700 million of red tape to repeal—well over halfway to our pledge of $1 billion a year.

One of the shocking statistics that has become evident is that, according to a survey by Queensland researchers, Australia's scientists spend more than 500 years worth of time each year preparing research funding applications for grants. What a waste of talent and knowledge that could be much better utilised. I look forward to the coalition government increasing efficiency around research grant applications so that scientists can spend more time on crucial research and development, rather than on filling out paperwork.

I look forward, as a Queensland representative on the coalition's deregulation committee, to seeing further repeals in red tape—saving businesses and individuals time, money and effort and contributing towards a stronger, more efficient economy and more jobs for Australians. I commend these bills to the House.