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Policy design is not just a game for pollsters and mandarins

According to Senator Jane Hume, shadow finance minister, a future coalition government would ensure that stakeholders, not just politicians and civil servants, are the driving force behind the design of good regulatory policy.

Hume told the audience at the Australian Wealth Summit that the Coalition wanted to develop regulations in consultation with stakeholders to ensure that any rules introduced would protect consumers but were not burdensome for regulated people and entities.

Her intervention in policy design followed criticism from various stakeholder groups, such as professional accounting bodies, about the way the current government has engaged in consultation across the financial services sector.

Hume said the main concern with regulations is the cost of compliance and that existing regulations should be periodically re-evaluated to see whether the costs of implementing any regulations outweigh the benefits to the community.

“There are effective ways to do this. For example, the requirement to produce a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for every new policy encourages policymakers to consciously consider the burden that new regulations will have on our economy,” Hume said.

“The problem, of course, is that regulatory impact statements are only effective if governments pay attention to them.”

During her speech, Hume unveiled a skeletal framework for policy design that included three elements: regulation must be fit for purpose, regulation must provide proportionate regulation that provides reasonable protection, and regulation should facilitate innovation and growth.

The initiative, which Hume, also the shadow minister for public services, said would require stakeholder consultation was to develop a system that would mean businesses would only have to report key information to the government once.

“The Coalition Government will therefore consult on the tell-them-once scheme to explore how we can better align government agencies and regulators to reduce the burden on Australian businesses and implement it across key portfolios,” Mr Hume said.

“Similarly, the calibration of what is proportionate to provide reasonable protection cannot be determined in isolation from a bureaucrat at the Treasury or a politician in the ministerial package – this needs to be communicated by talking to the businesses affected and understanding what they are trying to achieve “.


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