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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3253

Mrs MARKUS (Macquarie) (16:59): I rise to speak on the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014 and related bills. This is a momentous occasion for our parliament and the future economic growth of our nation. This day represents one of two days to take place in parliament every year that will be dedicated to removing red tape—a measure that has never before been executed in our parliament. This bill is a clear indication that the coalition government has indeed listened to the Australian people, and I am a bit concerned that those people on the other side have not really understood what the Australian people and Australian business—particularly small business owners—are really calling for.

We heard the cry of frustration, we promised to do something, and now we have begun to deliver. There are some key figures that are significant today—10,000 pieces and 50,000 pages of legislation and regulations, and savings of more than $700 million in compliance costs. We live in a nation of innovation, of enterprise and creativity, and small business is the foundation of that innovation and productivity. However, bad regulation and too much regulation hurts productivity, deters investment and innovation, and costs jobs. This is the legacy we have been left with by the former Labor government, which did nothing to stem the tide of rising regulation and compliance. In fact, they added to the burden, introducing more than 975 new or amended pieces of legislation and more than 21,000 additional regulations in little more than 5½ years. This has had a tangible effect on our economy. In the five years from mid-2007, Australia's multifactor productivity declined by nearly three per cent.

This bill implements a range of minor streamlining measures across 10 portfolios which include the amendment of 14 acts to streamline regulatory requirements to reduce regulatory burden or to make minor technical corrections and reference updates. It also sees the repeal of 43 spent and redundant acts and the amendment of 27 acts to repeal spent and redundant provisions. This is just the start of the measures to be implemented by the coalition. This bill is significant for the future productivity of our nation, but it is also important for the small business owners in my electorate. In the electorate of Macquarie there are more than 10,000 small businesses. These businesses vary from tourism to agriculture to retail and manufacturing. Macquarie is a product sector economy driven by small business and tourism, and many small businesses are struggling and crying out for change.

Recently I hosted the Minister for Small Business, the Hon. Bruce Billson, for two roundtables with small business owners and stakeholders—one in the Hawkesbury and one in the Blue Mountains. The message the minister and I were given at those discussions was clear: red tape and compliance burdens are hurting small business. We heard that some businesses and organisations are required to hire someone full-time purely to deal with compliance. Small business owners are also having to be full-time administrators rather than having the freedom to do what they do best: grow their business.

Di Sherrington is the president of the Windsor Business Group and owner of Dinky Di Cleaning Supplies with her husband, Roger, in Windsor. Di spoke out at the round table, saying there was an increasing frustration at the hurdles small business had to jump through:

It is the compliance requirements that do nothing but create red tape that is killing small business.

Jo Bromilow, president of the Blaxland Chamber of Commerce, who also attended the forum, agreed. Jo said that it would be renewing to see how the coalition plays out in abolishing red tape and allowing small businesses to grow, to move forward without the constant usage of paperwork that achieves nothing for their business. She says:

Small businesses play a significant role in the Australian economy and it is already apparent that the optimism is returning to small businesses which will only lead to employment growth and investment into this crucial area of the economy.

The measures announced in this bill as well as measures to come that have been previously announced will have a tangible impact for the people of Macquarie. The change of identity verification requirements for pre-paid mobile services will help retailers. Around 30,000 retailers nationwide will no longer have to photocopy ID for pre-paid mobile phone customers, who will not need to prove their identity twice—at point of purchase and at activation. The streamlining of agricultural chemical and veterinary medicine approvals will, among other changes, remove the expiry of AgVet chemicals approvals and registrations and the need for businesses to apply for re-approval or re-registration, which would impose additional costs on industry. This will be of great benefit to the men and women of the Hawkesbury who are involved in the agricultural industry. The small business owner down the road in Windsor will no longer have to administer paid parental leave employers. Paid parental leave will be administered centrally by the family assistance office, removing nearly $50 million in paperwork from employers and having access to a dedicated Fair Work Ombudsman hotline for small business users. And of course the carbon tax—which has already caused so much unnecessary stress and financial burden for small businesses in the electorate of Macquarie—will be repealed.

This legislation goes to the heart of what the coalition stands for. We want to create the best environment for people, for families and particularly for small business to thrive in. We want to remove the shackles and the load and to allow them to dream, create and live without being burdened by unnecessary bureaucratic practices. I commend this bill to the House.