Victoria launches red tape review to cut back regulatory barriers for small business

Small Biz Minister Philip Dalidakis at Small Biz Festival Launch

The Victorian Government will conduct a red tape review to reduce the burden of regulation and compliance on small businesses across the state.

Speaking at the launch of the Victorian Small Business Festival on Thursday, the state minister for small business and innovation Philip Dalidakis launched the review after sharing his personal struggles with red tape.

Having been a small business owner himself, Dalidakis says he spent many a night completing tedious paperwork for his accounting practice, using up precious time he could’ve spent with his family.

“Prior to entering parliament, I ran my own small business for two and a half years,” Dalidakis told SmartCompany.

“Making payments, collecting cash, challenging WorkCover premiums, discovering new insurances, paying BASs and finding some time to spend with the kids, while also remembering to pay the mortgage – it’s some of the hardest work I’ve done.”

According to the Victorian government small businesses in Australia spend an average of five hours a week on red tape.

“Regulation is vital to keeping Victoria’s workplaces and services safe and secure but it is equally important that when we can remove it, we do,” Dalidakis says.

“We don’t want to saddle the business community with an unnecessary burden or drain in compliance costs.”

During the talk, Dalidakis called on the small business owners in the room to stand up and thanked them with a round of applause for their contribution.

“Victoria is the small business state, with almost 9000 new businesses created in the past year alone we are leading the country in small business growth,” he says.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our strong economic growth, they bring people and communities together and support local jobs – we are making sure their time and resources are free of burdensome red tape.”

The state’s red tape review will run over the next two years and will examine more than 500,000 small businesses, starting with those in the retail sector.

The government is beginning with this sector because retail makes up 30% of Victoria’s small businesses and 98% of them have 20 employees or less, says Dalidakis.

“Negotiating the regulatory steps needed for day-to-day tasks such as putting up a sign or preparing a food safety plan, places tremendous strain on their resources,” he says.

The key areas of focus in the review will be:

  • Clarifying the regulatory obligations for retailers and when they apply to a specific business;
  • Time spent on compliance and having to provide the same information to different departments or agencies across multiple levels of government;
  • Cumbersome processes to alter existing permits and licences; and
  • Complexity around award wages and when they apply.

As part of the initiative, the Labor Government will release an issues paper on August 1 to spark a direct conversation with small businesses across the state on which areas of compliance are most burdensome.

The state government will also hold a series of roundtable events across Melbourne and regional Victoria inviting small retailers to attend and share their regulatory concerns and frustrations.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman has welcomed the review.

“It is great that the Victorian Government is acknowledging that we need to make it easier for retail businesses to develop and grow,” he said.

“We will work with the Victorian Government to remove the burdensome red tape that Victoria’s small retail businesses are experiencing each day.”

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