Costello announces Federal Govt’s final response to report on reducing regulatory burden

Commonwealth Treasurer Peter Costello has announced the Australian Government’s final response to the Banks Taskforce report "Rethinking Regulation: Report of the Taskforce on Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Business", addressing all 178 recommendations of its recommendations.

Treasurer Costello said the Government has agreed in full or in part to 158 of the recommendations.

According to Mr Costello, the Government in its final response commits to address the regulatory burden across a wide range of sectors and business activities including:

* tougher rules for making new regulation, including cost benefit analysis;

* screening of all regulation at least every five years;

* work to harmonise State and Territory conveyancing laws;

* work towards a single regulator for mine safety;

* an FBT reporting exclusion for pooled motor vehicles;

* improved education and advice for occupational health and safety;

* a review of the thresholds for the definition of a large proprietary company;

* a simplified accounting method to be developed for small restaurants, cafes and caterers;

* commencement of work on the national streamlining of business names through the ABN/ABR system;

* alignment between definitions of small business, employer and associate; and

* aligning training and licensing and mutual recognition of occupational licensing.

The final response includes measures announced in April 2006 interim response including:

* an increase in the minor fringe benefits exemption threshold from $100 to $300, effective from 1 April 2007;

* an increase in the fringe benefits reporting exclusion threshold from $1000 to $2000, effective from 1 April 2007;

* a halving of the incorporation fee from $800 to $400, at an estimated cost of $216.4 million over the budget forward estimates period with effect from 1 July 2006; and

* allowing companies to make annual reports available on the Internet and to send hard copies on request.

Committee to examine business reporting costs "complements" Govt's final response

Treasurer Costello also announced a committee of Australian and State Government officials will be established to examine the case for the introduction of standardised business reporting.

The Treasurer said this new project has the potential to "reduce business reporting costs significantly" and "complement" the measures announced in the Government’s final response to the Taskforce on reducing the regulatory burden on business.

"The aim will be to reduce compliance costs for a wide range of businesses through the establishment of an IT-based system which would allow businesses to report to relevant authorities in a consistent manner," the Treasurer said. "This would remove the need for businesses to individually report to various government agencies at the Commonwealth, state and local levels."

According to Treasurer Costello, the committee will:

* be chaired by Treasury;

* consult with Australian, state and local government agencies;

* undertake targeted consultation with the business sector; and

* provide a progress report to the Government by the end of 2006.

16 August, 2006

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