House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015, Amending Acts 1990 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 3) 2015; Second Reading

4:31 pm

Photo of Tony ZappiaTony Zappia (Makin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Manufacturing) Share this | | Hansard source

To continue my remarks on the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015 and related bills, prior to question time today I was making the point that, if the government wants to save money and cut red tape, there are many other areas where it could look to do so. I referred to three examples, including the application for passports and the processes that some people need to go through when they have lost a document of some sort, and the same with respect to a replacement for their citizenship certificate, which can also be very time consuming and costly to both parties. I believe that that is where the government could be making some real savings as opposed to some of the claims made about this legislation.

Another area where savings could be made is in the granting of DGR status to organisations in the community. I note that this matter was debated in the House only a week ago with respect to the Tax Laws Amendment (Gifts) Bill 2015. I bring to the House's attention a particular application: it relates to the Vietnamese Catholic community, who applied for DGR status earlier this year. The Vietnamese Catholic community own their own land in Pooraka, which they secured around 30 years ago. On that land, they built a multipurpose building that is used primarily, but not exclusively, as a church. In addition to the church activities, the community have subsequently added to the main building and now their community centre is used for a range of activities including recreation, general administration, aged-care support and a Vietnamese language school. They have plans to do much more with it as well.

In order to do more with it, they want to expand the current facilities that they have. They want those facilities to be used by the broader community for a range of non-religious purposes. In July they applied for DGR status. Their application was not successful because of what appears to be a misunderstanding that the applying organisation was a religious based organisation and that the new extensions it wants to build would be used for religious activities, when that is not the case. Perhaps they did not make their application sufficiently clear to the minister—they had to apply directly to the minister for DGR status. The Vietnamese Catholic community subsequently responded to the minister's rejection letter, clarifying the purpose of their request, and are now awaiting a further response from the minister. The reality is that the multipurpose building that the Vietnamese Catholic community want to build has nothing to do with their religious activities. It is for separate activities for the broader Vietnamese communities, and will be used for cultural activities, celebrations, community events, youth activities, aged services and the like.

I have attended activities and events held by the Vietnamese community at that location, and I can confirm that they do provide a whole range of those non-religious types of activities from their premises. If they were to be granted DGR status, it would enable them to raise funds more quickly. If they raised the funds more quickly, then they would be able to get on with the building of the multipurpose building more quickly. If they do that, it will, in turn, I believe, save the government and broader community a lot of money, because they will use those facilities for a whole range of social support activities that will benefit the local community and which otherwise may well have to be provided by government. Here is a good example of an organisation using the resources of volunteers and a building that they want to pay for themselves to then, in turn, provide a whole range of community services that, in many cases, would otherwise be provided by the government. Yet not only is their application process—I suspect there are others like it—being delayed; whilst it is being delayed they cannot get on with doing what they want to do. It is a good example of where government process needs to be made more efficient. It is a good example of where, if the government really wanted to save money and, in effect, support the community more broadly, it could do so simply by changing the process—I understand that, in some cases, it can take up to 18 months for DGR status to be finally agreed to by the minister—to make it much more efficient. The examples I have provided with respect to this legislation will, I believe, provide real savings to the broader community and real savings to government, as opposed to the claims made by many government members about how this legislation is going to do so much good by saving so much money for the broader community

4:36 pm

Photo of Craig KellyCraig Kelly (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am pleased to rise this afternoon to speak on the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015, the Amending Acts 1990 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015 and the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 3) 2015. Before I start, this is potentially my last contribution to the House before we break for Christmas. The privilege of standing in this parliament and having one's say is one of the finest privileges any citizen can have in our democracy. I am looking forward to returning after Christmas and continuing the work that our parliament is doing.

I go the bills. Firstly, I would like to make a few remarks to reflect on the comments made by the member for Makin. When he spoke on this bill before question time he expressed his concerns about a potential rise in the GST and how this would increase the cost of living for people. That is fair enough. On this side of the parliament, we certainly do not want to increase the cost of living pressures on people. That is what I cannot understand: we hear speakers on the Labor side of parliament so incensed about the possibility of an increase in the percentage of the GST, yet the same people have their own policy to bring back a version of the carbon tax and call it an ETS. I cannot understand why members of the Labor Party come in here, like the member for Makin did during this debate, and talk about how concerned they are for the average Australian and how they could face a higher cost of living, yet, at the same time, the Labor Party promote bringing back the carbon tax in the form of an ETS. You simply cannot have it both ways. If you bring that back, all you do is increase the price of electricity and increase the price of road transport. So everything that is transported to our shops, everything that is manufactured in any way in a factory that needs power or electricity, and everything produced on a farm or in a mine increases in cost. The thing about an ETS is that it is designed to automatically increase year after year after year. I just cannot understand why the modern Labor Party go on about this when they get so upset about the cost of living. They want policies that will cause so much harm with the increased the cost of living, so much harm to the bottom line for Australia's citizens.

Secondly, the member for Makin talked about how terrible austerity measures are in many overseas countries. In that he does have a bit of a point. We saw scenes in Greece and other parts Europe with austerity programs that I hope we never, ever see in our country. We saw pensioners standing outside of banks in tears because their life savings were no longer there. That is something we never want to see in our country. We need to remember that countries in Europe that are imposing austerity programs do not do so out of pleasure or design; they do so because previous governments borrowed and borrowed, wasted that money and created obligations for future generations of citizens in that country.

I am sure that none of us in this parliament ever want to see a period of austerity in this country, but, if we are going to do that, what happens to this country in 10 or 20 years after the decision that austerity policies have to be brought in? People will go back to the decisions that we make now in this parliament to make sure that we were living within our means and were not continuing to borrow and borrow. With just the borrowings by the previous Labor government, our interest bill is already $1 billion a month. Let's be clear about that: from the taxes that are paid by wage and salary earners in this country, we have to tax them $1 billion a month, not to repay the debt but to just pay the interest. One billion dollars comes out of the economy every single month just to pay the interest on the reckless spending of the previous government. If we do not want to burden future generations of this country with the austerity measures that we have seen in Europe, it is up to our government, the parliament and every person who is elected to this House and the Senate to make sure that we are doing everything we possibly can to bring the budget back to surplus.

On the specific provisions of the bill, they send the message—and there are practical steps involved—that the government has a commitment to less red tape and fewer regulations to free the hands of the entrepreneurs of this country to get out there, invest in new start-up businesses and create new wealth and new jobs. That is the message that we are sending along with this bill. We have seen, time after time, the unintended consequences of overburdensome government regulation, where a government sees what it thinks is a problem, rushes in and says, 'We can fix that problem with regulation,' only to make the problem worse.

I would like to give some examples of that. There are many citizens in this country who have relatives and friends living overseas, and we transfer about $60 billion a year out of Australia. It is a form of private foreign aid. In fact, it is more than 10 times greater than our official government foreign-aid budget. That money is remitted in various ways. Some is remitted directly through the bank—where someone walks into a bank, puts their money on the counter and says, 'Send this to my cousin's bank account in the Philippines,' or Tonga or Vietnam or anywhere else in the world. Another way is through Western Union.

We also have what is known as the home remittance industry. This is where individual Australians have seen an opportunity in the marketplace because of the banks' extremely high fees and charges. They can provide this service efficiently and at a lot less expense than the banks. It has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars going to help many Third World countries and increase what is, effectively, our private foreign-aid budget.

Governments were concerned, and rightly so, about the possibility of money laundering and funds being diverted to terrorist activities. Various acts were brought in, not just in Australia but around the world. The result of this was the banks said they faced fines—our banks are all large multinationals and operate in many countries throughout the world—being imposed upon them in other jurisdictions. They found anyone involved in this home remittance business and shut them down. They closed their accounts down, one after the other. We had people who had built up their businesses over a decade, complying with every single piece of red tape and AUSTRAC regulations. They had crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's and had done everything right—only to find their accounts had been closed down.

What has happened because of this? It has had the opposite effect of what we had hoped for. Previously, people went through the official channels of remitting money, tracked by AUSTRAC. We had a chance to pick up whether the money was being laundered or going to terrorist activities. The system worked and we caught people doing that. Our official agencies have done a very good job in doing that. But this legislation is forcing this industry underground. We will end up with less transparency, less tracking of the money when it goes overseas and more people dealing in cash. It was said in one of the committee hearings, today, that there are reports of people smuggling several hundred thousand dollars in cash out of Australia—because of the very legislation we thought would fix the problem.

Another example is in my electorate, out in Western Sydney, in what we call the Moorebank intermodal. Again, this was government coming to the rescue to try to reduce pollution in Western Sydney. The thought was, if you take your freight and put it on rail instead of road, you will reduce the pollution. At first blush, there is some truth to this. With rail you have steel on steel and it is more efficient than rubber on road. As far as diesel fuel goes, if you are moving freight for 20 kilometres—what it is from Moorebank to Port Botany—you need half the amount of fuel, than by road, if you put that container on a train and send it via rail.

Federal and state governments are jumping up and down saying how wonderful this is and we will have less carbon pollution, because we will be burning less diesel fuel. But they forgot to have a look at the real pollution in Western Sydney: particulate matter. They forgot to consider how much particulate matter is produced by trucks and trains. The diesel trains we have running around Sydney, on our suburban freight network, spew out 18 times more particulate matter than truck engines. Government thought it was doing a great job at lowering pollution—yes, you use half the fuel but you end up with a nine-fold increase in particulate matter, in Western Sydney, coming from every container that we take off the road and put on rail. At a minimum, it will be a nine-fold increase in particulate-matter-pollution in Western Sydney.

It is particulate matter that the World Health Organisation has deemed a carcinogen. Yet government solutions to reduce pollution are resulting in a nine-fold increase. I could go on with example after example. The fact is that many times, when we come into this place and government thinks it is fixing things, it often only makes the problem worse. That is why this legislation—yes, it does a few things—sends a message that this government is about lowering regulation, is about less red tape, is about freeing the hands of the entrepreneurs who create the wealth in our society. This is a good bill and I commend it to the House.

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Deputy Speaker Mitchell, on indulgence, and through you: can I just remind the member for Hughes that he was in the chair when I was addressing this bill, and he pulled me up on relevance.

Photo of Craig KellyCraig Kelly (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I missed the member's interjection.

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Go and have a chat with him.

4:52 pm

Photo of John CobbJohn Cobb (Calare, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is very good of the member for Hunter to remind us that we should not waste time and should get on with it and be relevant—I will remember that!

Today I would very much like to be part of the debate on the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015. We often talk about red tape and the time and the effort it soaks up. And I have to tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker: I am not the biggest advocate of political correctness; I think political correctness is trying to drag Australian society down to the level of countries that are far less efficient and far less fortunate than we are. If we are not very careful, the mountain of paperwork that we deal with in every area of life—particularly in the building industry, and particularly for people who want to establish small businesses and such things—could bury us. The biggest disincentive to a young couple to go out and work for themselves is the paperwork and the reporting they are required to do.

A lot of what we are talking about here today is not so much about the business side—although that is probably the most important side of it, because small businesses particularly do not have the personnel and the time to deal with a lot of the reporting and the red tape that we are all faced with today, and that is incredibly important. But it is very easy to forget that this also concerns the health industry, government and non-government, and the aged-care industry, and various other organisations such as not-for-profits or those in communication and the arts, especially if they have volunteers, because volunteers are not going to be too rapt with having to deal with a lot of the red tape and the reporting et cetera.

This bill will amend or repeal legislation across 14 Commonwealth departments that are not the subject of individual stand-alone bills. The bill is about cleaning out spent or redundant legislation. The government must ensure the job is getting done in the most efficient way, and we always look to assess and scrutinise legislation and government bodies to ensure they deliver the best services to the Australian public. But the bill is also about simplifying things, and we have to do that on a regular basis. Any government which simply passes legislation without looking at whether it is becoming redundant or is simply a waste of time puts itself or its motivations at risk.

This bill will see legislation in aged care and the Health portfolio altered, making it more accessible and easier to understand. The administration of residential aged care will be improved, by altering many provisions of the Aged Care Act 1997, making it a faster process. Currently the act requires the approved providers to notify the Department of Health of changes in key personnel and their employment within 28 days. In circumstances where an employee leaves and is replaced by another, this would require two notifications to the department even if neither changed or affected the quality of care. This is an unnecessary requirement, taking up precious time for the aged-care provider and also the department, which is absolutely inundated with requests and sometimes has up to 10,000 notifications from aged-care providers each year.

The Aged Care Act 1997 will still require providers to notify the department of changes in circumstances that materially affect the provider's suitability to provide care. These are simple but necessary changes, saving not only time but also costs. The Department of Health has estimated it will lead to an annual saving of well over $1 million in compliance costs.

Other aspects of the bill deal with medical training and the fishing council. The omnibus bill will abolish the Medical Training Review Panel. Currently this panel overlaps with the National Medical Training Advisory Network, and both of these bodies' functions include providing advice on medical workforce planning and medical training plans to inform government, employers and educators, and the advisory network will now pick up the reporting obligations on medical training and education. Obviously, we do not need two bodies doing the same job. The bill will also repeal part 3 of Fisheries Administration Act 1991. That part of the act establishes the Fishing Industry Policy Council, which has not convened for close to 14 years.

This bill will also change various acts in the Communications and the Arts portfolio. I would not claim to be a close follower of the arts portfolio, but I think we all deal with communications. Once more we will remove duplication of legislation, including that which is under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 and the Telecommunications Act 1997. Much of this involves removal of ineffective consultation requirements, repealing a number of inconsistent approaches to the time and method of doing so. Some of these consultation periods range from 14 to 60 days with a requirement of publication on a website, while some require publication in multiple newspapers. These requirements are not consistent and they are inflexible. We should not be tied up looking through outdated and unnecessary regulations to see if they apply. Spent acts to be repealed also include the Statistical Bureau (Tasmania) Act 1924 and the Papua and New Guinea Loan (International Bank) Act 1970. Leaving this legislation in place serves no purpose other than making it harder for people to understand, which is rather unreasonable given that New Guinea has not been our protectorate for some 25, 35 or 40 years.

The coalition are committed to ensuring businesses, community organisations, families and individuals can find information with ease surrounding regulations that matter to them. This is clear, as the government has decided to repeal over 10,000 legislative instruments and around 3,600 acts of parliament. It may not be exciting—and a lot of housekeeping is not—but we have to make sure that the legislation and regulation serve a real purpose and do not just fill out a folder somewhere. We do not want to be overwhelmed and over-governed by regulations sitting idle and providing barriers to the important information.

I commend this bill to the House—no matter which aspect we look at, whether it is for business, not-for-profit organisations or non-government organisations. For all those parts of legislation which require government departments and others to do things and follow certain principles—whether it is taxpayer money paying public servants, or a husband and wife running their own business—saving money is the name of the game, making life simple and not just putting stuff there for a reason that adds to the mountain of paper. It is extraordinarily important. I repeat what I said at the outset. If it is just there because it is politically correct, that is an even better reason to get rid of it.

5:02 pm

Photo of Teresa GambaroTeresa Gambaro (Brisbane, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak in favour of the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015, the Amending Acts 1990 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015 and the Statute Law Revision (No.3) Bill 2015. With more than 30,000 businesses in my electorate of Brisbane, I dare say there are few in Australia who would welcome this legislation more than many of the businesses in the electorate of Brisbane. It will help people in a very, very practical way. As someone who has been brought up in small business all her life, I fully understand the time that is consumed with red tape—the amount of time consumed after hours filling out forms and surveys. It is an endless complaint that many businesses have in my electorate. I have very small, diverse businesses in my electorate—from little Italian biscuit manufacturers such as Dolce Sapori in Clayfield to some of the largest law firms like Clayton Utz and Freehills in the CBD. I know that these reforms are very wide ranging and are going to have a very positive effect on the business community throughout the Brisbane electorate.

The coalition made a commitment before the last election to reduce red tape by $l billion annually. We have achieved that, with a target of $4.5 billion in red-tape savings announcements in the first two years. I thank the member for Kooyong for the wonderful work that he has done in this area.

Mr Neumann interjecting

The member opposite may well yell out at me, but we have actually delivered on what we said we were going to do. It is all in the stats. We have repealed 3,600 spent and redundant acts. You cannot deny that. I know he is a lawyer, so he understands what legislative instruments are. We have removed 10,000 legislative instruments from the Commonwealth books. For every $1 added to the cost of regulation, the government has made decisions that have cut $11. It is there to see.

The omnibus bill is a whole-of-government initiative to amend or repeal legislation that is not the subject of any individual stand-alone bills. The omnibus bill alone will amend or repeal legislation across 14 government departments, much of which is spent or redundant or has remained on the Commonwealth's statute books long after it has fulfilled its purpose. For example, the omnibus bill will repeal the Wool International Act 1993 and the Wool International Privatisation Act 1999 from the Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio. These two acts are redundant because WoolStock Australia Ltd was wound up. Why do we have to have something there that has been wound up and was delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange in 2001?

At a decision-making level, we have also improved processes through this legislation. For instance, all cabinet submissions are now accompanied by an analysis of the regulatory cost and benefit, and that is a fantastic thing. We have also changed the way we approach regulation so that it is not seen as a costless way to address policy issues. The federal government now has a Regulator Performance Framework for Commonwealth regulators.

While we have come a long way unshackling the businesses that I spoke about just earlier from the regulatory burden put in place by previous governments, there is still a need to expand the regulatory reform agenda. Now is the right time to update our reform agenda, because regulatory reform should do more than just reduce compliance costs. It needs to support flexibility in our economy. It needs to encourage that innovation that we talk about and the innovation of the future. It needs to do that in the best possible way. We need to be free from some of these regulatory burdens so that businesses are free to grow and innovate.

To do this, we are focusing our regulatory reforms on the following: we are putting the needs of business and the broader community first, and that should be the first goal always; we are removing the regulatory obstacles that can stifle competition and new technologies; and we are continually reviewing ongoing regulations to make sure that they stay fit for purpose. We are working with the states, territories and local government to make sure that the reform potential continues. We have already seen evidence of that, particularly in states like Queensland, with a one stop shop, and making sure that we have more of these streamlined portals for business to go to.

I congratulate the Brisbane City Council for the wonderful work they do with their innovation and digital portal. It is probably one of the most advanced portals of any local government. They have led the way in this area, and I really do want to pay tribute to the great work they are doing with businesses, making sure that businesses are connected to all those processes.

Where regulation is necessary it has to be designed in the best possible way. It has to be fit for purpose and easy to comply with. Bad regulation, as we have heard from many of the persons who have spoken before me, costs time and money. It is a drag on people's businesses and on their time. More importantly, it is a drag on the economy.

In my own electorate I see it on a daily basis, where businesses, particularly SMEs are restricted by unnecessary paperwork. They want to make decisions quickly. They do not want to be buried in paperwork. We have seen this and we have seen the difficulty of regulatory regimes in adapting to digital disruptors, like Uber for example, or the rise of online retailing. Regulatory barriers can also hinder competition and the market forces that push firms to innovate and perform at their very best.

In an age of rapid technological changes we simply cannot set and forget. When it comes to rules and regulations, that is particularly important. We have to move ahead and we have to be flexible. Brisbane technology start-up Cloud Manager, for example, is charting new territory in cloud brokerage services. It is simply not good enough to provide standards for our current technological capabilities only. For possible advancements to be made for tomorrow we have to be flexible. We must provide those policy settings that promote regulatory innovation, as much as it promotes innovation in business.

This modern approach is also being adapted in government departments, with several being given a digital makeover. This reduces the time it takes to do business with the Department of Human Services. It will also trim all of those associated costs for individual businesses and community organisations by $61.6 million.

It should come as no surprise that the new tranche of reforms have a renewed focus on innovation and on productivity. Allowing spent and redundant acts or provisions to remain in force on the Commonwealth statute books does not serve any purpose. It only makes it harder for Brisbane businesses, community organisations, families and individuals to find out about the regulations that matter to them.

To date, and subject to the passage of the legislation through the parliament, in total this government has taken decisions to repeal 10,000 legislative instruments and 2,700 acts of parliament. Through the omnibus bill and the AAR and SLR bills this government is continuing to demonstrate its commitment to make steady and consistent progress to reduce red tape. Proper housekeeping is part of the government's responsibility to ensure that the rules the parliament agreed to in the past continue to remain fit for purpose.

One of the most omnipresent structures most constituents in my electorate face is the tax system. We are committed to streamlining this process so that businesses and individuals can focus on growing the economy. I note that the Assistant Minister for Productivity is in the chamber. More productivity will result if businesses can just focus on the things that they do best. So we will continue to develop new ways to make our tax system easier to comply with. The latest tool, myDeductions, allows individuals to record their deductions using their phone, which is another great innovation. We are enhancing the ATO online services for individuals and sole traders. Legislation is giving businesses the freedom to communicate digitally. Brisbane is the financial and commercial capital of Queensland. We are making it much easier for the many hundreds of businesses dealing in the financial services sector to communicate important information to all of their consumers. Consumer preferences are changing. We see an ever-increasing number of people making digital transactions. That is why we allow product disclosure statements to be delivered to consumers digitally, unless the consumer opts out. This will reduce the cost of printing and mailing for businesses, while preserving the choice for consumers.

It is this same agenda of business-friendly reform that we are unfolding right now across this government's policy agenda. The government has also signed three free trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to further reduce the burden of regulation on business. In fact, many local businesses in my electorate, like Charlton Brown, Nanny Agency and Halfbrick Studio, that are taking full advantage of our policy achievements by exploring new markets and particularly engaging in these new free trade agreements.

It is important to recognise Brisbane's current economic outlook, and indeed that of Australia. There is no question that we have enjoyed more than 20 years of growth, thanks to the commodities boom and the structural reforms in our economy. However, this was never going to last. Therefore, this government is going to remain proactive in creating a policy environment in which we will allow businesses and individuals to transition to as seamless as possible diversified economy.

Where these bills will be useful is in increasing productivity, which is absolutely vital for our economy to grow and to prosper. While significant productivity-enhancing reforms can be difficult to achieve, our track record proves that we should never discount our nation's courage to embrace reform. As long as we are open and frank about the challenges we face, we build a case for change. The lasting benefits will be there for all to see.

For the sake of Brisbane businesses, we must ensure that this legislation is passed. I commend the bill to the House.

5:13 pm

Photo of Peter HendyPeter Hendy (Eden-Monaro, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Productivity) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with great pleasure that I take the opportunity today to sum up on this package of repeal day bills: the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015, Amending Acts 1990 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015 and Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 3) 2015. In total, these three bills repeal just over 900 Commonwealth acts, ensuring regulation remains in force only for as long as necessary. Making regulation easily accessible and removing old and unnecessary provisions means that business individuals and community organisations spend less time trawling through regulations and more time contributing to the economy and to society.

The omnibus bill repeals a range of redundant and spent acts, as well as spent and redundant provisions in Commonwealth acts.

The Amending Acts 1990 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015 continues the government's efforts to streamline the statute book by removing over 877 amending or repealing acts enacted between 1990 and 1999.

The Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 3) continues the work of repealing spent or redundant legislation and correcting minor errors in the Commonwealth statute book. By removing obsolete provisions and correcting outdated terminology, the bill also makes sensible improvements to the acts it amends without making substantive changes to the law.

Together, the three bills include significant changes, but they are just a part of a broad range of initiatives that we outlined on the spring 2015 repeal day. In total, this government identified over $2 billion in red tape reductions in the spring 2015 repeal day, meaning the annual cost for businesses and individuals in complying with Commonwealth regulations has been reduced by around $4.5 billion since September 2013.

This achievement has been accompanied by the institution of significant transformation across government since 2013. The Commonwealth government's regulatory gatekeeping, including the application of regulation impact statements to assess the costs and benefits of policy options, has been strengthened. Regulators are also required, under the Regulator Performance Framework, to look at how they administer regulation and minimise the cost this imposes on taxpayers, customers and other affected and regulated entities.

The strength of our frameworks is being recognised globally too. The recent OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015 placed Australia in the top grouping of countries for each indicator, including regulatory impact assessment, stakeholder engagement and post evaluation of new regulations.

I want to particularly acknowledge the member for Kooyong, the now Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, and the member for Pearce, the now Minister for Social Services, for their important contribution to this agenda. There is still much work to be done, and we are focused on nurturing innovation and growth and on creating jobs. As Assistant Minister for Productivity, I look forward to continuing to foster this important cultural change across both the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.

This package of repeal day bills, along with other key regulatory reforms that the government plans to implement, reduces costs on businesses and removes regulatory impediments to competition and innovation. Through a comprehensive regulatory reform agenda we can continue to free businesses, improve productivity and transition to a stronger economy.

I commend the bills to the House.

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that this bill be now read a second time.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.