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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3248

Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (16:40): I rise to support the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014. The Abbott coalition government is committed to assisting Australia's businesses and community groups by removing $1 billion in red and green tape costs. For the first time in history, two days of parliament each year will be dedicated to removing red tape. Today marks the first of these two days. Today, 10,000 regulations and pieces of legislation are being repealed, resulting in over $700 million in savings, less compliance and fewer hours spent completing paperwork. This represents the largest-ever single bulk repeal in the history of the Commonwealth. This is in stark contrast to the 21,000 regulations introduced in the past six years by the Labor government—as well as the toxic carbon and mining taxes. As a result of Labor's pro-regulation approach to government, Australia has been ranked 128 out of 148 countries surveyed for burden of government regulation by the World Economic Forum.

I have listened to the small businesses and community groups of Dobell who have told me of their struggle with the costs of compliance, which impact on their productivity and ability to grow, invest and create new jobs. No-one would argue that business regulation is essential for ensuring the rights of employers, employees and the general public are protected. Unfortunately, business regulation that is inefficient or unnecessary imposes undue costs on business. The costs of compliance are seen as a major barrier to growth. The average Australian business deals with eight regulators in a given year, spends close to four per cent of their total annual expenditure on complying with regulatory requirements and spends approximately 19 hours a week on compliance-related activities.

I would like to acknowledge in the parliament today the delegation from Dobell, comprising Mr Daniel Farmer from the Central Coast NSW Business Chamber, Mr John Mouland and Mr Phil Walker from Regional Development Australia Central Coast, and Ms Christine Hornery from the Dobell Women's Business Forum. Their presence today demonstrates the support in our community for our government's commitment to removing unnecessary red and green tape. Ms Hornery, CEO of a local financial advice business, the FMS Group, has applauded the government for its FoFA changes, saying:

Without the removal of this red tape, the financial impact on small financial advice businesses in setting up systems, training, supervision, monitoring and reporting would have been significant.

Ms Hornery informed me that the estimated additional costs of compliance would be equivalent to one full-time employee's wage. FMS Group can now retain an additional employee and will not need to pass on additional unnecessary costs to their clients. This is just one example of where the government's deregulation initiatives will have a positive impact on local businesses by strengthening their capacity to grow and deliver more jobs, which we desperately need on the Central Coast, where we have an unemployment rate of 6.88 per cent and a youth unemployment rate of 34 per cent, both well above the national averages. Mr Mouland stated:

It is great to see the Commonwealth introduce measures to simplify or completely remove unnecessary or duplicated regulation that directly adds to the spiralling cost of compliance that local Central Coast businesses face.

Mr Mouland, Mr Walker, Mr Farmer and Ms Hornery, while in parliament today, have had the opportunity to meet with ministers and advise them that the majority of local businesses on the Central Coast are micro-, small- or medium-sized enterprises that will greatly benefit from the repeal of these burdensome regulations. This, in turn, will drive productivity improvements and boost further regional economic growth.

Red and green tape is being cut across nearly every government portfolio to the tune of $700 million. It is worth highlighting that the broader economic benefit will be much larger than this. It has been said that regulation must never be the default option for government but only a means of last resort following genuine consultation with stakeholders. The risk of failure when it comes to deregulation reform is too great to bear. Australia has a $400 billion investment pipeline which represents thousands of potential new jobs in regions such as the Central Coast and around the nation.

In closing, I would like to thank those from Dobell who have travelled to be here in parliament today to mark this special occasion and share in this government's resolve to ease the burden of unnecessary red and green tape, enabling regions such as the Central Coast to prosper under a stronger economy where everyone can get ahead. I commend this bill to the House.