Decentralising the protection of Australian threatened species

Decentralising-the-protection-of-Australian-threatened-species-Final [This Institute of Public Affairs research report can be downloaded here]

With business creation and investment in Australia in precipitous decline, it is critical that all levels of Australian government undertake reforms to reduce red tape to achieve minimum best practice regulation.

Environmental law in Australia has not only been expanding but also becoming more centralised. The delays that stem from this red tape create uncertainty, stymie investment, and hold back Australian prosperity. This paper emphasises one aspect of environmental law—the listing and protection of threatened species—and analyses potential reform directions.

Liquor licensing: red tape on Australian businesses

This report was published by the Institute of Public Affairs with Jake Fraser and Chris Berg

Executive Summary

Hospitality and related industries suffer from red tape in many areas, including inflexible workplace relations laws, restrictive food handling and labelling regulations, and liquor licensing.

This paper inquires into the state-based liquor licensing regulation through a survey of several Australian jurisdictions before providing reform recommendations.

Restrictions on the sale of liquor across most jurisdictions are characterised by several different types of licenses referring to different business activities, as well as complex tiered fee structures ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Several recommendations are made to cut red tape on the sale of alcohol:

  • Streamline and simplify the number of liquor license types (e.g. on premises, off premises, special event) for different business activities to the minimum viable level.
  • Flatten, lower and index both application and renewal fees to ameliorate business uncertainty.
  • Shift liquor licensing resources away from restrictions on potential licensees prior to trade, towards greater enforcement of breaches once they have been committed.

Reducing liquor licensing red tape must be coupled with a broader agenda to cut red tape across the Australian economy.

The case for cutting red tape on drones

This report was for the Institute of Public Affairs, and submitted to a Senate inquiry. Download the PDF.

From videography and construction, to the age-old primary industries of agriculture and mining, drones hold remarkable potential to revolutionise many Australian industries.

From 29 September 2016 regulatory changes by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) cut red tape on drones by removing burdensome license requirements for low-risk operations and carving out an exclusion category for drones on private property.

While these changes represent a reasonable trade-off between community safety and flexibility, they have not escaped political debate from various interest groups. This paper contributes to this policy discussion by placing it within a broader context of the regulation of new technologies.

Two further reform recommendations for drones in Australia are made:

  1. Remove the regulatory requirement for drone operators to be within visual line-of-sight (VLOS) for commercial drones. Cutting this red tape and enabling beyond visual line-ofsight (BVLOS) flights will help stimulate investment in new business models.
  2. Adopt a permissionless innovation approach. Rather than precautionarily regulating based on hypothetical future harms, a permissionless approach allows innovation by default, and waits for harm to be demonstrated before intervening.

Adopting these recommendations will ensure the Australian drone industry is able to flourish by remaining at the frontier of global drone regulation best practice.

On regulation, productivity and growth

This report was originally published with the Institute of Public Affairs with Daniel Wild and Brett Hogan (Download a PDF here).

Concern over Australia’s recent falling productivity growth should centre on the real contemporary policy task of achieving marginal reforms that enable individuals to propel long-run economic growth and prosperity.

The key policy framework to achieve this, we propose here, is a classically liberal approach to economic policy that involves maintaining the rule of law, limiting government, protecting private property and cutting red tape.

Adopting this approach understands that economic growth is fundamentally driven by individual decision making over heterogeneous capital resources, and that prospective policy changes should be judged on their capacity to facilitate individual economic calculation and action.

A competitive free market economy is essential for growth for two interconnected reasons: (1) that free markets provide the incentives for the discovery of novel methods to achieve economic ends; and (2) because the market mechanism acts as an indispensable selection process to determine how those new things align with individual desires.

A competitive free market economy-centred on the institutions of private property and rule of law – does not only facilitate productivity growth, but also the important dynamic processes that ensure that growth meets human needs.

There are widespread claims that the liberalisation and microeconomic reforms of 1980s and 1990s Australia have been exhausted. Subsequently, new policy approaches towards productivity-for instance, investment in human capital-have been rationalised.

In this paper, especially given the present fiscal budget pressures, rather than examining specific determinants of changes in productivity statistics in the past, or propose new spending measures, we examine one major area of potential economic reform: cutting red tape.

Ten red rape initiatives for the next Australian government

This report was originally published with Mikayla Novak for the Institute of Public Affairs (Download the PDF).

The Australian economy is shackled by red tape. Poorly designed and low quality red tape stifles growth, suppresses entrepreneurship and hinders our international competitiveness. Cutting red tape at all levels of government is now our only solution. However, both sides of federal politics are yet to make a clear comprehensive commitment to cut red tape.

In this short paper we propose ten red tape initiatives for the next Australian government. Committing to and implementing these initiatives represent the core of an economic agenda. Recent Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) research estimated that red tape costs Australia $176 billion every year in foregone economic output.

Understanding that the only way to unleash this prosperity is by cutting red tape, the IPA urges the next Australian government to:

  1. Dedicate one full week of parliamentary sitting days to repealing red tape.
  2. Benchmark red tape reduction on the number of ‘regulatory obligations’ rather than arbitrary cost measures.
  3. Commit to a ‘1-in-5-out’ regulatory obligations requirement.
  4. Estimate of the costs of public administration of red tape and the costs imposed on governments themselves.
  5. Develop a more open regulatory costing process.
  6. Commit to a Productivity Commission independent assessment into red tape progress across all Australian jurisdictions.
  7. Introduce red tape ‘open days’ to facilitate engagement between business and government.
  8. Utilise COAG to seek mutual recognition of requirements between jurisdictions.
  9. Commit to implementing the remaining recommendations of the Belcher review relating to whole-of government red tape.
  10. Assign a clearly responsible and accountable Ministerial position for overseeing the above red tape reduction initiatives, with the potential for performance-based remuneration.

The sharing economy: how over-regulation could destroy an economic revolution

This report was originally published with Chris Berg for the Institute of Public Affairs (Download the PDF).

The sharing economy describes a rise of new business models (‘platforms’) that uproot traditional markets, break down industry categories, and maximise the use of scarce resources. The best known services are the ridesharing system Uber and the accommodation service Airbnb. However, the sharing economy extends much further into finance, home tools, investment, and everyday tasks.

The ‘sharing economy’ emerged from dramatically falling transaction costs that had prevented certain markets from developing. The sharing economy coordinates exchanges between individuals in much the same way as a traditional market, but does so in a flexible, self-governing, and potentially revolutionary way. These burgeoning benefits are profound: more sustainable use of idle and underutilised resources; flexible employment options for contractors; bottom-up self-regulating mechanisms; lower overheads leading to lower prices for consumers; and more closely tailored and customised products for users.

These sharing economy platforms are only in their embryonic stage of development. The benefits to the Australian economy as the market becomes more efficient are likely to expand. This expansion will only occur if Australia’s entrepreneurs are left to experiment and innovate. The real threat to the sharing economy is government regulation driven by the incumbent industries that are challenged. The danger of excessive legislation and regulation will absorb the gains yielded by technology improvements, preventing mutually beneficial trade and stifling economic growth.
This paper recommends new approaches to regulatory design that would encourage the growth of the sharing economy:

  • regulators should encourage bottom-up, organic, self-regulating institutions prior to introducing top-down government control;
  • occupational licensing needs to be reduced to allow private certification schemes and reputation mechanisms to evolve;
  • industry specific regulatory frameworks need to be avoided;
  • regulations making it harder for start-ups to compete for labour need to be reduced; and
  • the status of individual contractors needs to remain separate from highly restrictive employment law.

Freedom to teach (Research Report)

This report was originally published with the Institute of Public Affairs with Vicky Stanley and Aaron Lane (Download the PDF here).

While there has been much attention and significant resources dedicated to examining the structures surrounding the attraction, training, retention and performance of teachers, there is almost no consideration of the conditions under which teachers are employed and paid.

This report examines the government school Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) and awards across Australia, pointing to a highly inflexible and restrictive employment system.