To fix our red tape problem we must not only repeal existing legislation, but also stem the tide of new red tape.

Before imposing new rules regulators must think about the impact changes will impose on businesses and consumers.

What are the additional compliance burdens placed on businesses? What will be the unintended impacts? Is there an alternate method to achieve a similar outcome?

Regulators, however, have little incentive to ask these questions.

In an attempt to formalise what should already be best practice regulatory behaviour, Australian departments are already required to estimate the cost of new regulatory changes as part of a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) process.

While the outcome of this process – which consists of 7 main questions – are publically available, the length and complexity of the RIS document makes them unnecessarily opaque.

That’s why the next Australian government should develop a more open regulatory costing process with the potential for broader public interaction, criticism and objection.

We propose a simple fact sheet outlining precisely how the costings are calculated by the department, including the limitations and shortcomings of those costs.

This should be coupled with an open process of businesses, individuals and stakeholders being encouraged to question, comment, criticise and challenge those costings.

These initiatives would make Australia’s regulatory costing process more open and accountable.