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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1014

Senator ROBERTSON —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's remarks in a recent speech to the Business Council of Australia in which he outlined proposals to get rid of what he called ' an unnecessary business regulation' in Australia. Does the Government propose to implement these proposals and, if so, what are the implications of such a move?

Senator BUTTON —Of course it is not clear at present what the implications of such a move would be. There are all sorts of estimates and opinions about these matters and the results would be difficult to quantify. That could only be done over time. The undertaking given by the Prime Minister was to establish a body in which the private sector of industry would be involved, through the Business Council of Australia, in which the Australian Council of Trade Unions would be involved, and no doubt in which other representative bodies could be involved to look at the removal of unnecessary business regulation. The Government believes that much of the regulation which currently takes time and hampers the effectiveness of industry could be removed and that would contribute greatly to industry efficiency.

Of course the most important thing in improving the environment for industry is the provision of a satisfactory macro-economic climate. The Government, in its 18 months in office, has devoted prime attention to this question, with quite significant and indeed spectacular results, of which I think the business community is well aware. I refer to results in terms of the inflation rate, in terms of interest rates and in terms of the level of industrial disputation in Australia. A number of improvements of that kind have created a better environment for business activity. Another aspect of improving that environment is the removal of unnecessary regulation. It will be a slow process in the context of the Australian federal system because both Commonwealth and State governments contribute to the overregulated environment in which industry currently has to operate.

There is no doubt that a critical examination conducted by government, in conjunction with business representatives, will turn up a number of areas of over-regulation about which that group can tackle and make recommendations to the Government. We look forward to this exercise. We regard it as of great importance in improving the general industry environment in Australia.