Meet Australia’s first red tape commissioner: Why he wants to hear from small business

Australia’s first red tape commissioner has been appointed in Victoria and says he wants to meet with as many small businesses as possible, as he starts compiling a list of problem areas to target and bring to the state’s government’s attention.

John Lloyd, who previously worked as the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner and deputy secretary for the Department of Workplace Relations, has told SmartCompany he wants to get rid of as many red tape burdens as possible.

“The manifestation of red tape is the difficulty in getting government approvals, the time that it takes to organise between departments, and the difficulties in getting things handled,” Lloyd says.

“If these are happening, it really suggests the departments in question need to lift their game.”

Lloyd’s appointment has also been welcomed by Opposition Small Business Spokesman Bruce Billson, who told SmartCompany he supports the addition of a commissioner exclusively for red tape.

“Successful red tape reduction requires strong leadership and not just in-house bureaucratic gestures.”

“In principle I think the idea of appointing a red-tape commissioner has merit and I’m sure the other states will be watching the performance of the commissioner to see if it can work elsewhere.”

Lloyd, who began in his role this week, says he specifically wants to hear from small businesses, which he claims “are the most exposed to the problems of red tape”.

“There’s nothing more frustrating,” he says.

Victorian treasurer Kim Wells announced Lloyd’s appointment last year, although it was confirmed earlier this week he had officially started on his role.

“Mr Lloyd’s experience working with state governments makes him well placed to identify opportunities to deliver regulatory reform,” Wells said.

Victoria is becoming something of a leader for small business improvement, with both the first small business commissioner and now the first red tape commissioner starting work in the state.

Lloyd says Victoria has a target to reduce red tape by 25% – if this experiment proves useful, other states could follow with similar appointments.

“I think there will be a few stages of this, the first will be engagement with business, then questioning agencies to see why regulation is there, and then finally going to government,” he says.

“But for now, I want to sit down with small business, and get them to say explicitly what are the five or 10 biggest impediments caused by red tape. From there, I can create a priority list – and hopefully get red tape reduced.”


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