In 2014 the Australian Government undertook a stocktake of the costs to businesses and individuals complying with federal regulations.

The publicly released stocktake found that $65 billion in regulatory compliance costs, representing a massive impost on productive activity in Australia.

But to construe the $65 billion figure as the total cost of red tape would be misleading.

The compliance costs counted by the government only included the compliance costs of regulation imposed on the public, excluding compliance costs within government itself particularly between different levels of government.

The presented costs also excluded the administration and financial costs associated with regulation, representing a direct yet heavy burden upon Australian taxpayers.

Future stocktaking reports of the red tape burden by government should include the direct costs of regulation, and provide more comprehensive information about compliance and economic costs associated with red tape.

Governments should also look to set a 25 per cent reduction target on these costings.

The next Australian Government must commit to initiatives cutting red tape to unleash prosperity. It should publicly release a costing of the direct costs that taxpayers are obliged to pay for administering the regulatory state.