Labor serious about cutting red tape

Minister–elect for Finance and Red Tape Lindsay Tanner has ruled out any red tape review, saying he wants to get right down to action. Tanner told SmartCompany this morning that there had been plenty of reviews. “It’s time for the hard work.”

The Labor Government has made deregulation and the cutting of red tape a central part of its campaign to business. While the Coalition promised little in the election campaign, Labor pledged to install a minister for red-tape in cabinet to enforce a “one in, one out” rule for any new regulation and to cut red-tape involved with government tenders. Tanner says Kevin Rudd promised to have a cabinet minister for regulation in cabinet. “And he has delivered courtesy of me.”

The slashing of red tape will now be a major priority of Tanner who is in cabinet, backed up by small business minister-elect Craig Emerson. “It makes sense to have a junior minister (Emerson) also involved.”

Tanner expect to move immediately on simplifying the disclosure regime for financial services and the harmonisation of state and federal regulations as well as strengthening the regulatory impact statement.

He will also begin discussions with his department to start the ball rolling on simplify Federal Government tender contracts and reducing commercial risk for businesses performing low-value government contracts. This should help SMEs access $26 billion in federal government work tendered each year.

Tanner says does not expect to be further involved in the small business portfolio. “I expect Craig to run his own race on small business issues. Craig and I have a good relationship and we will work as a team.”

Tanner says he will not rule out setting a target reduction for red tape. But no doubt he is aware of the target set by Howard in 1995 to cut red tape by 50%. Of course red tape then increased enormously and Howard’s red tape reduction pledge often came back to haunt him.

Here are Labor’s promises on red tape and regulation:

Minister for red tape: A cabinet minister to oversee cuts to business regulation, while a senior official would enforce the cuts and restrictions. The minister will enforce a promised “one in-one out” approach under which a new rule could only be imposed after another is cut.

Superannuation clearing house: Establish a superannuation clearing house to help SMEs deal with choice-of-fund super laws. The clearing house will handle the form filling, checking and distribution of contributions to funds. Business with less than 20 employees would be offered this service free of charge.

Government tenders: Simplify Federal Government tender contracts and reduce commercial risk for businesses performing low-value government contracts to help SMEs access $26 billion in federal government work tendered each year.

BAS Easy: Allow businesses with annual turnover between the $50,000 GST registration threshold and $2 million to be able to opt for a low paperwork GST reporting method.


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