A Seamless National Economy
Australian governments have been working through COAG to improve the environment in which Australian businesses operate and to enhance productivity in the national economy.
In 2008, COAG agreed to implement regulation and competition reforms under the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy.
Thirty-six separate reforms are covered by this National Partnership, comprising 27 deregulation priorities, eight areas of competition reform and a reform to regulation making and review processes. As of July 2012, 17 of the deregulation priorities and three of the competition reforms are complete.
In May 2012, the Productivity Commission assessed 17 of the Seamless National Economy reforms in its Report, Impacts of COAG Reforms: Business Regulation and VET. The Productivity Commission suggested that that the 17 reforms that it modelled could increase GDP by around 0.4 per cent (over $6 billion) per year and reduce business costs by around $4 billion per year.
- Personal Property Securities
- Protecting Australian Consumers
- Improving the Efficiency of Transport Regulation
- Standard Business Reporting
- National Construction Code
Personal Property Securities
Reforms to Personal Property Securities (PPS) were completed on 30 January 2012. COAG‘s reform of personal property securities unified 70 different Commonwealth, State and Territory laws and 40 different registers into one national system, with one register and one Act — the Personal Property Securities Act 2009. The reform’s objective is to remove unnecessary uncertainty and complexity for borrowers and lenders, and drive down transaction costs. The Productivity Commission estimates that the value to the Australian economy of this reform is $70 million per annum.
Protecting Australian Consumers
The Australian Consumer Law came into effect on 1 January 2011. This reform improves consumer wellbeing through consumer empowerment and protection, and fosters effective competition. This is achieved through the introduction of a single, national regime for fair trading and consumer protection — the Australian Consumer Law. The Productivity Commission estimated in 2012 that the net benefit to the economy and consumers of Consumer Law reform would be in the order of $880 million per annum.
Improving the Efficiency of Transport Regulation
In a major step forward in improving the efficiency of transport regulation, COAG agreed on 19 August 2011 to three new Intergovernmental Agreements on heavy vehicles, rail and maritime safety. The signing of Intergovernmental Agreements represents a landmark microeconomic reform through establishment of national standards, which when complete will significantly reduce the number of regulators.
National transport regulators are to be in place for heavy vehicles, rail and maritime safety by January 2013. The heavy vehicle regulator reforms alone are worth up to $30 billion to the national economy over 20 years.
Standard Business Reporting
Standard Business Reporting (SBR) commenced on 1 July 2010. It offers Australian businesses, accountants, bookkeepers and tax agents a quicker and simpler way to lodge reports with government. The Productivity Commission estimates $500 million of potential benefits from this reform over nine years.
SBR simplifies business-to-government reporting by removing unnecessary or duplicated information from government forms, using business software to pre-fill forms automatically with relevant information, providing an electronic interface to report to agencies directly from accounting software and providing a single secure sign-on for online users.
National Construction Code
The National Construction Code will consolidate building and plumbing regulations into a single code, eliminating overlapping regulations and providing a nationally consistent approach to regulation. Companies will have greater flexibility to choose the most efficient and effective building solution while still meeting regulatory standards. The Productivity Commission estimates this reform to be worth $1.05 billion to the national economy annually.