Newly elected MP for the electorate of Brisbane, Trevor Evans, has called for red tape reform in his maiden speech.

Mr. Evans voiced particular concern for the effects of red tape on small business:

“If decision-makers do not properly comprehend the needs and the potential of small business, or if they think first and foremost of big business, big unions or big government when they make decisions then we fail small businesses, because, while small businesses are not usually directly regulated or licensed, they certainly do feel the cumulative burden of business red tape. Well-intentioned but ill-considered and sometimes poorly administered regulations are currently strangling these businesses—sometimes to death.”

Mr. Evans also spoke of the inefficiency of regulators in enforcing compliance, creating an environment of uncertainty for small business:

“The evidence is already in if you know where to look for it. When the Fair Work Ombudsman audits small businesses in retail, fast food or hair and beauty, it regularly finds non-compliance rates of about 40 per cent… we have so many areas of regulation now with the rules changing so frequently in so many of those areas that small businesses in Australia are already overwhelmed. Speaking frankly: they survive right now in a fraught purgatory of non-compliance and non-enforcement.”

Mr. Evans advocated for a new awards system that would minimise red tape:

“I propose that this government works to introduce a new industrial relations award specifically to apply to start-ups and small business. In recognition of the fact that small businesses are already struggling with the cumulative burden of red tape, a new small-business award should aim to be less prescriptive and more principles based than the current industry awards.”

Mr. Evans’ statements are consistent with the IPA’s Submission to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Discussion Paper 2016 by Darcy Allen, which found that:

“Small businesses spend disproportionate resources understanding and complying with complex and unnecessary red tape. This means the red tape burden falls hardest on small business, partly because they have often have fewer resources to absorb the cost.”

Reducing the regulatory burden on small business is vital to the wealth and prosperity of Australia, and the IPA calls for the government to prioritise cutting red tape in its economic agenda.

By Michael Husek