Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Assistant Treasurer
Minister for Housing
Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing
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Spring Repeal Day

It gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak on the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2014) Bill 2014 and related bills. In particular I want to start by congratulating the Prime Minister and his parliamentary secretary, the member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, for the outstanding work they have done in pushing forward our second red-tape repeal day.

We have already taken significant steps towards repealing red tape for Australian businesses and individuals with our first red-tape repeal day. We made a commitment prior to the election to hold regular repeal days, because we have always believed that by getting off the back of business we assist them in getting on with what they do best, and one of the things they do best is creating jobs in this economy. Removing outdated and unnecessary regulation is something that many parties in opposition propose. They promise to do it should they be elected. However, it is only this government which is getting on with the job of actually reducing the regulatory burden now that we are in government.

The Labor Party are a classic example of this. Before the election in 2007, under former Prime Minister Rudd, they committed to a policy of one-in one-out when it comes to regulation. The small business minister at the time, the Hon. Craig Emerson, even promised to take ‘a giant pair of scissors to the red tape that is strangling small businesses’. However, talk is cheap. We know that under the Labor Party in those six years, more than 21,000 new regulations were introduced. So much for the one-in one-out policy. So much for taking a big pair of scissors to red tape. It would be laughable if it were not so serious.

We stand in contrast to the false rhetoric of those opposite. We are not changing department names or making glib statements; we are actually doing what the former minister said: we are taking a giant pair of scissors to the red tape that strangles small business. The reason for this is that the coalition believes that reducing red tape is going to be one of the most important elements of driving economic growth. And we do not want economic growth for economic growth’s sake. But improving the ability for our economy to grow will improve the lives of our citizens and create more jobs. It will hopefully mean people can fulfil their lives in the way they want.

Unfortunately, in 2014 Australia was ranked 124th out of 148 countries for the burden of government regulation in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index. The Productivity Commission has estimated that regulation and associated compliance costs could amount to as much as four per cent of Australia’s GDP. Today, for the second time, we seek to repeal that lamentable legacy. This repeal day removes almost 1,000 pieces of regulation and more than 7,200 pages of legislation. This follows up from the work down in March, when the government removed over 10,000 pieces and 50,000 pages of legislation and regulation, which delivered over $700 million worth of compliance cost benefits. Together with today’s repeal day, this will lead to a total net deregulatory saving of over $2.1 billion, an important achievement for job creation in Australia.

Already, we have made big steps. We now require cabinet submissions proposing legislative changes go through a regulatory impact process, something the Labor Party in government abandoned. We have established designated deregulation units within ministers’ departments and, where appropriate, linking the remuneration of senior members of the Public Service to their performance in reducing red and green tape.

In addition to all those changes, and that is only a few, we are also seeking to eliminate the extensive duplication and regulatory overlap that exists between different layers of government, particularly between federal and state regulation. In my electorate of Deakin, I constantly hear the cry from businesses and individuals that they have to meet, in many cases, competing regulatory requirements at a state and federal level, and it is infuriating. It strangles innovation and entrepreneurship, and that is why this is so important.

Another key way in which we will be removing red tape will be by streamlining and improving the regulatory obligations and reporting methods. There will be $88 million a year in compliance cost savings, including with respect to the Australian Taxation Office, Medicare and Centrelink. Something I have heard about constantly in the last few weeks is that five million Australians have created their myGov account. I have been getting extraordinary feedback on that.

I am going to end my contribution early to enable other speakers to speak on this omnibus repeal bill. Understandably, as a government, we are very keen to all have a say here, because this will be the future for driving economic growth in this country, not economic growth for its own sake but economic growth for the sake of the lives of our citizens and improving jobs.

Now that Parliamentary Secretary Frydenberg is in the chamber, I want to congratulate him again for driving this process. I have business men and women in Deakin who shake my hand and say, ‘Please thank the parliamentary secretary for driving these changes.’ I commend the bills to the House.