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This is not advice. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. The information contained in these articles is for guidance only and should not be relied upon without obtaining professional advice having regard to your direct circumstances.


Red tape to be unravelled

The Rudd Government is planning a blitz of reforms to reduce the cost of regulation to business - including requiring old regulations to be removed each time new ones take effect.

The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, last night promised to introduce a kaizen culture of "continuous improvement" in regulation, to end its rapid growth and begin "genuine deregulation".

While Treasurer Wayne Swan was in Melbourne cuddling up to the Business Council of Australia - whose budget submission this week backed Labor's critique of the Howard government, saying it had spent too much, and on the wrong things - Mr Tanner told the Sydney Institute the Government would put an accelerated plan for deregulatory reform to the Council of Australian Governments next month.

Mr Tanner said the reforms would include:

Standard business reporting, to allow firms to submit BAS statements, state tax returns, ASIC documents and Bureau of Statistics survey forms through faster, easier processes using their own software.

Nationally consistent occupational health and safety laws.

Streamlined environmental assessment processes to stop time wasting.

A fresh look at the 170 recommendations of the Banks taskforce on deregulation, which were delivered in 2006 but were mostly left unimplemented.

Regular reviews by the Productivity Commission of the regulatory burden in each sectors of the economy.

"We are serious about change," Mr Tanner said. "I want to break down the barriers impeding regulatory reform. I intend to introduce a culture of continuous improvement in regulatory activity - a culture in which government is always looking for opportunities to streamline regulatory processes."

This would include requiring any minister proposing new regulation to identify other areas where regulation could be removed or modified to reduce compliance costs for business, he said.

Regulatory proposals would not come to cabinet unless accompanied by a regulatory impact analysis endorsed by the independent Office of Best Practice Regulation.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, Mr Swan told a Business Council dinner that Labor was looking at years of fiscal reforms to enhance the long-term productive capacity of the economy: above all, "labour, infrastructure and skills".

"One budget can't do it all," Mr Swan said. "This budget and those that follow are the key policy documents for laying down our agenda to tackle future challenges."

He applauded the budget submission from the big business lobby, which urged Labor to widen its spending cuts to embrace a three-year freeze on real government spending.

Echoing the close relationship between the BCA and the Hawke Labor government, he enthused: "Your submission demonstrated that, in so many ways, there is a strong overlap between your priorities and ours.''

Tim Colebatch, February 27, 2008
My Small Business,


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