Red Tape Reduction: A New Approach

Book chapter published in Australia’s Red Tape Crisis: The Causes and Costs of Over-Regulation

Abstract: Policymakers pursuing regulatory reform can take one of two complementary paths: first, identifying and repealing specific regulatory instruments or sectors; or second, through placing institutional constraints on the regulatory process itself. This paper reviews the political economy of these two paths in Australia before focusing on the latter path, of red tape reduction policies and procedures. Developing effective red tape policies and procedures relies on the quantification and measurement of the red tape burden so that success or failure can be benchmarked. Finally this paper introduces a new approach to measuring regulatory burden—counting the number of restrictive clauses as applied in British Columbia—as the potential future of red tape mechanisms in Australia.

Australia’s red tape crisis: The causes and costs of over-regulation

[Co-edited with Chris Berg, this book was published with Connor Court]


Red tape costs the Australian economy as much as $176 billion a year. Governments create and enforce thousands of regulations on our workplaces and our communities. These rules slow and prevent businesses forming, people from flourishing, new technologies from being adopted, and hold back Australia’s global competitiveness. Australia’s Red Tape Crisis is an exploration into the economics, politics and culture of over-regulation. How should we structure our federation to achieve reform? Why should political responsibility sit with the elected? Does Australia have a deep desire for a federal bureaucracy? What is the future of red tape reduction policies? Together, the contributions of economists, philosophers, politicians and lawyers help define a path for overcoming Australia’s red tape crisis.