Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7616

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector and Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion) (12:58 PM) —I thank Senator Brandis for his comments and his indication that the coalition supports this important piece of legislation. Some people might consider it a review, some people might call it a statute stocktake and some of us might say it is a good piece of government housekeeping. Whatever the name of the bill, I think we all agree that well-designed and targeted regulation is essential to reducing costs and complexity for business and the not-for-profit sector, and it forms a part of the government’s commitment to ongoing microeconomic reform. Well-designed regulation increases Australia’s productivity and international competitiveness and fosters innovation and structural flexibility.

The Statute Stocktake (Regulatory and Other Laws) Bill 2009 underlines the government’s commitment to reduce unnecessary or poorly designed regulation. It proposes to amend or repeal almost 30 acts where the provisions no longer have any functional purpose, as Senator Brandis described, including the Income Tax (Franking Deficit) Act 1987 and a number of acts relating to the removal of digital data service obligations—and thank heavens we have gone beyond 64 kilobits per second as our digital data standard!

The redundant regulations were identified through a regulatory stocktake conducted by the Commonwealth departments in 2008. This was, in fact, the first stocktake of its kind conducted since the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments commenced in 2005. The review identified a large stockpile of redundant or potentially redundant regulations. In addition to this bill, the government’s wider regulation clean-up exercise is expected to remove around 200 pieces of unnecessary subordinate legislation over coming months.

Further, in an effort to better understand the impost on business and to identify scope for further regulatory efficiencies, a review of 30,000 subordinate legislative instruments is being conducted to identify reform priorities and ensure the current stock of regulation is being adequately managed and tested for ongoing relevance. While it may go unnoticed by many, leaving undated, redundant regulation actually increases costs for business. It is harder to identify which rules apply and resources are diverted to irrelevant and inefficient activities. There is also a high probability of inconsistent or overlapping rules.

This bill represents just one element of the government’s ambitious regulatory reform agenda. Through COAG we are working with the states to achieve a more consistent and harmonised national approach to key regulatory issues. On 2 July 2009 the Council of Australian Governments reaffirmed its commitment to microeconomic reform and the critical role that the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy, and its regulatory reform agenda, plays in enabling productivity gains for the economy. At the Commonwealth level the minister is delivering regulatory reform in the areas of Commonwealth regulatory responsibility including reducing the length and improving the readability of product disclosure statements for financial products and reviews of health technology assessment arrangements as examples to improve unnecessary costs and facilitate earlier patient access to innovative and cost-effective new health technology.

The global economic stresses we have faced and continue to encounter remind us of the importance of delivering microeconomic reform efforts that enhance our productivity. A sustained commitment to better regulation is an essential tenet of our microeconomic reform agenda and this bill is an important step in delivering on the government’s commitment to continuous improvement in regulation. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.