Australia

Report identifies a number of unnecessary local government regulatory burdens for business

A DRAFT report released this month by the Productivity Commission has identified a number of areas of local government regulation that place unnecessary regulatory burdens on Australian businesses.

According to the Productivity Commission, of most concern to business is the costs they face from local government planning and zoning assessment and building and construction regulation.

In the draft report, titled 'Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Role of Local Government as Regulator' and commissioned by COAG, the Commission examines Australian local governments' regulatory activities.

The Commission identifies a range of leading practices in the Australian states and the United Kingdom which, if implemented more widely, have the potential to lower the costs imposed on business while maintaining the outcomes sought by local government regulation.

The Commission said it paid particular attention to the processes under which higher levels of government delegate regulatory responsibility to local governments, how local laws are developed and monitored, the resourcing of local governments and the ability of businesses to have their concerns addressed.

"Local governments interact with Australian businesses every day. While poor local decision making processes can place unnecessary compliance burdens on businesses, especially small ones, it is clear that the first step in addressing these is for the states and the Northern Territory to ensure the regulatory frameworks they require local governments to administer are fit for purpose," said Commissioner Warren Mundy.

"Given the huge diversity of local governments across Australia, it is vital that higher levels of government understand the capacity of local government to deliver the desired regulatory outcomes. Where resources are scarce, local government must be given clear guidance as to how to prioritise their regulatory activities," Dr Mundy said.

The Commission identifies a range of leading practices to which all jurisdictions have contributed, covering areas such as law making, legislative frameworks and capacity to regulate.

The Commission is seeking comment on the draft report before finalising its report in July, with submissions due by 25 May 2012.

More information on the draft report, 'Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: The Role of Local Government as Regulator' is available from the Productivity Commission website at <http://www.pc.gov.au/>.

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