Prime Minister Tony Abbott has introduced laws into parliament he says will remove almost one billion dollars in compliance costs for big and small business.
(Transcript from World News Radio)
He says the government intends to get rid of 10,000 redundant acts of parliament and regulations that cost time and money to comply with.
But Labor and the Greens fear some of the changes will adversely impact on families, business and the environment.
The federal government says it’s found $350 million in savings, taking away the administration of the carbon and mining taxes and easing checks on financial advisers.
It says it will also save business and charities $48 million a year by getting Centrelink to administer parental leave payments.
Further savings are expected to come from companies operating across state borders being able to join the federal workers’ compensation scheme.
A simplified government tendering process and electronic payment system is expected to save $38 million.
Also listed for the axe are re-approval and re-registration processes for agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
Mr Abbott says it’s the government’s job to serve the people, not the people’s job to serve the government.
“In simple terms, we work for you. And we are working for you today by creating the biggest bonfire of regulations in our country’s history. So to the Australian people I say this is about saving you money, saving you time and trusting your commonsense to make more choices about your life.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says proposed changes to accountability, particularly in the financial planning system, could leave the industry open to another crisis.
He says the move is unnecessary because the previous Labor government had introduced a comprehensive range of laws to protect consumers.
“This matter shouldn’t be about partisan point-scoring or ideology. We believe repeal should be diligent, not ideological. That is why this talk of bonfires and war is so remarkably overheated. We don’t want important protections to be lost under the guise of deregulation. We should have regulations to make sure our consumers are safe. We should have regulations that protection mum and dad investors. We should have regulations that preserve our pristine natural environment, these are vital.”
Another of the changes being criticised is a so-called one-stop shop for environmental approvals of major projects, which Mr Abbott says will save $120 million a year.
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt says it is farcical to repeal so many regulations in one day.
He says the Greens will closely scrutinise every change, especially in regard to the environment and women in the workplace.
“Tony Abbott says this is all done under the name of cutting red tape. But one person’s red tape is another person’s protection. Tony Abbott has no plan other than to cut everything and hope for the best. And we know that excessive deregulation gave us the global financial crisis and Tony Abbott seems intent on having a hands-off approach. And when there’s a law to protect someone, Tony Abbott can’t run fast enough to repeal it.”
As part of the repeals, the Coalition plans to to scrap the new national regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, and return some of its functions to the Australian Taxation Office.
A group of 53 not-for-profit organisations has written a letter to the Prime Minister urging him not to abolish the regulator.
World Vision chief executive Tim Costello says scrapping this Commission will actually increase red tape.
“We are going to have higher costs. We are going to have less transparency. This has been a real advance for the charity sector. To go backwards, is really going to make life much more difficult for us. I can say that 80 per cent of all charities in this nation actually support this (Commission).”
The bill is expected to pass the House of Representatives but it’s passage through the Senate is not assured, with the Greens and Labor opposed to it.