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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3261


Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (17:30): It is with great pleasure that I take the opportunity today to sum up on the bills before the House: the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014, the Amending Acts 1901 to 1969 Repeal Bill 2014 and the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 1) 2014. This is very hard for the Labor Party to stomach. We have come up with an idea that you did not think of first. We have come up with an idea to deregulate the Australian economy, not re-regulate the Australian economy. On the omnibus bill, we have heard from the members on our side—not from the members opposite—of how aged-care building certification will no longer be duplicated at the federal and state level and how Telstra will not have to provide 70,000 pages of wholesale contracts to the ACCC because now they can just provide a list of the contracts they enter into to the ACCC, with the opportunity for the ACCC to ask for those individual contracts as they wish.

All the measures within the omnibus bill, together with the legislation that we introduced last week in the House, and a whole range of other measures that we have either previously introduced or have done in an administrative manner, have produced a $720 million pay-off for the Australian economy, for small businesses, for families and for not-for-profit organisations. This has got rid of more than 10,000 unnecessary and redundant regulations and acts. Why didn't you think of that? The reason the Labor Party did not think of this is that their default position is to regulate. The default position in their DNA is to increase regulation. Twenty-one thousand additional regulations were introduced under the previous Rudd and Gillard governments. That is a shameful legacy. And what did it mean? It meant that multifactor productivity in this country fell by around three per cent in the five years from mid-2007. The World Economic Forum did a survey of 148 countries and found that Australia was a pitiful 128th in terms of the overall regulatory burden. The Economist Intelligence Unit did a survey of 51 countries for productivity growth, and where did Australia come? Fiftieth out of 51, only marginally ahead of Botswana.

Ms Rishworth interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Kingston is not in her correct place and is not entitled to interject.

Mr FRYDENBERG: That is the legacy that the previous Labor government left us. This is despite Kevin Rudd promising a 'one in, one out' policy when it came to regulations. This is despite Craig Emerson, who was then the minister for small business, one of six small business ministers that Labor had, saying in 2008 that he would take a giant pair of scissors—how big?—to cut red tape. Instead, they gave us 21,000 additional regulations.

There was the independent Borthwick-Milliner review. The member for Watson should listen to this. Your own previous government commissioned the Borthwick-Milliner independent review into the operation of regulatory processes, and it found that your government was disregarding the need for a RIS process, a regulatory impact statement process. There are more than 80 examples of noncompliance by the previous Labor government when it comes to regulatory impact statements. They include some of the biggest and most important legislative changes that they brought into place: the carbon tax, the mining tax, the Fair Work changes, FoFA, the NBN. All of those were shamefully exempted by the then Labor government from the regulatory impact statement process. You were not interested in understanding the impact on business, on the not-for-profit sector, on compliance, on productivity, on new entrants, on jobs, on jobs, on jobs. That is why, under your government, we saw an increase in unemployment and a slowdown in productivity—because the previous Labor government did not pay attention to the true impact of the regulations that they were introducing.

As I have met with industry groups, with not-for-profit organisations and with small businesses around the country as part of this government's deregulation effort, I have identified five key areas which we need to tackle in our deregulation fight. The first is volume. There is too much volume of regulation, and the previous Labor government gave us 21,000 additional regulations. The second is that there is massive duplication in our federal system between federal and state governments. We are trying to tackle this, because we do not want to see companies go through the process which the BCA documented for one environmental approval, which cost the company more than $20 million, took more than two years, required 4,000 meetings and a 12,000 page report, and then, when the approval came through, had 1,500 conditions attached, 1,200 at the state level and 300 at the federal level. We have said, 'No more do we want that level of duplication between federal and state.' Greg Hunt, the Minister for the Environment, should be congratulated, because he has succeeded in getting signatures from all states and territories, even from the Labor states and territories, onto the MOUs for one-stop shop environmental approvals.

The third area that we must tackle as part of our deregulation effort—in addition to the volume, in addition to the duplication—is the need for better forms of consultation with those who are most affected by regulations. Under the Labor government that the Australian people were subject to over the last six years, there was no genuine consultation. The Labor government presented their 21,000 new additional regulations to those stakeholders as a fait accompli. There was a little bit of negotiation around the edges, maybe, but there was no genuine consultation. So as a government we have said that we will have a RISprocess and we will genuinely consult with those parties who are most affected by any new regulation.

Fourthly, we are going to ensure that we have mandatory post-implementation reviews and a greater use of sunset clauses. Under the previous Labor government there were no mandatory reviews. The Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Kevin Andrews, sitting alongside me, knows that in his own of area thousands of regulations were introduced by previous Labor governments that have lived on the statute books long after their use-by date. We want to ensure that statutes and regulations do not live on beyond their use-by date. We need better use of sunset clauses. We need to ensure that there are mandatory post-implementation reviews and, if we do need to review or renew a regulation, then let us do it, but let us not leave redundant regulations on the statute books.

Finally, a key area for our deregulation effort is dealing with the role of the regulators. Yes, the regulations on the statute books are important but equally important is how those regulations are administered. The member for Watson may laugh. He thinks this issue is funny, but this issue is not funny. This is a very serious issue because the roles of the regulators need to be looked at. We commissioned a Productivity Commission report, which was released last week, which provides us with a framework for auditing the performance of the regulators. We say to the ACCC, to APRA, to the ATO and to ASIC, you do a very important job but you must get the balance right between risk and cost because, if you blindly administer regulations without understanding the impact they have on stakeholders, you will drive up the costs to business to the point where they are counter-productive for the economy.

The Commonwealth has 75 external regulators and 68 internal regulators. This Productivity Commission review provides very important information about how we audit the performance of the regulators. For example, do they distinguish within the organisations between their licensing and advice functions and their enforcement functions, which is consistent with good governance? Do they encourage self-regulation where it is appropriate? Do they have good regular dialogue with key stakeholders who are affected? We are going to tackle the role of regulators. As I said, we have introduced measures which will produce a dividend, a compliance saving to the Australian people of more than $700 million. We have done that by avoiding duplication between federal and state levels but also between state levels. One of our great initiatives is NOPSEMA's offshore petroleum approvals process because we do not want two federal regulators duplicating there.

We have streamlined existing measures—for example, in the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014, which deals with overlapping building certification requirements for the aged care sector. So we now will not have duplication. We have said on the Personal Property Securities Act 2009, how can you define a motor vehicle as being equivalent to a whacker packer or to a scissor lift, which is currently the definition under the PPSA, meaning that the compliance burden on small hire firms is very prohibitive? We have said to the not-for-profit organisations—like the Brotherhood of St Laurence—when you are managing a $100 million Commonwealth program like HIPPY, which provides education support for disadvantaged families around the country, you should not have to report in detail to the Department of Education on a monthly basis. You can do it on a quarterly basis and that can save you up to half a million dollars.

We have taken a number of measures which have dealt with duplication and streamlining. We have also taken an axe to those regulations which are producing very silly outcomes. The member for Watson may be a great fan of Kung Fu Panda, but I bet he did not know before our repeal day that Kung Fu Panda required four sets of classifications because it was on DVD, in 2-D, in 3-D and in Blu-ray. We have said that we just need one set of classifications to save thousands of dollars.

We have said job service providers no longer need to keep paper records of job applications—one job service provider had 336 cabinets full of paper records—when they can keep those electronically online. We have said to the university sector—where they face a $280 million annual compliance burden—through the Minister for Education, we will do something significant to cut that regulatory burden. It was Universities Australia who said that this government is now 'walking the talk' on deregulation. Universities no longer have to report in detail to the federal departments about how they use their lecture theatres, their tutorial halls and their academic offices.

These are just some of the many measures we have introduced. But more important than the legislative measures and the administrative measures that we have introduced are the processes we are adopting—like the regulatory impact statements which will be adhered to by our government in a way that will ensure we will better understand the true impact of overregulation on the taxpayer, on small business, on families and on the not-for-profit organisations. It is something the previous government had their heads in the sand about, and they gave us 21,000 additional regulations. I am very confident that, as we move towards our $1 billion annual red tape reduction target, as the deregulation units are set up in every minister's department and as the Prime Minister is now taking responsibility, we will not only save money for those people who create jobs or help those most in need but be upholding freedom, encouraging personal responsibility and ensuring that the nanny state lives no longer in Australia.

The SPEAKER: The original question was that these bills be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Watson has moved as an amendment to the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014 that all words after 'that' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question, therefore, is that the amendment be agreed to.

Question negatived.

The SPEAKER: Pursuant to the resolution agreed earlier today, I will now put the question that the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014 and two related bills be now read a second time.

Question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.