Business groups are waiting for news from the Council of Australian Governments meeting today in Adelaide on national reform of occupational health and safety laws and cuts to red tape.
Inconsistent laws across the country are seen to add to the costs of doing business. The Business Council of Australia’s report Toward a Seamless Economy estimated that fragmented laws cost business up to $16 billion annually.
Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout, has urged the Federal Government to over-ride the states if there is no progress at COAG today.
“If real and tangible progress on harmonisation of existing state laws has not been made by Easter 2009, the Commonwealth should move quickly to establish a uniform national system,” Ridout told The Australian Financial Review.
Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has also signalled changes to federal funding arrangements for the states. Federal funding will move away from five year “take it or leave it” offers and towards a yearly payments system subject to ongoing assessment.
“This will mean policy objectives and service delivery, not money, will be front and centre of Commonwealth-state relations,” said Swan.
Also on the reform agenda is federal oversight of the financial industry, particularly consumer protection regarding mortgage brokers and non-bank lending.