11 November 2013
The Australian Government proposes to make changes to the regulation of registered organisations. These changes are a specific election commitment of the Government.
Registered organisations are those employer and employee associations that are registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (RO Act). Associations that become registered organisations can access privileges and rights under the RO Act and Fair Work Act 2009 that allow them to represent the interests of their members in workplace matters, for example by
- in the case of employee associations, having a right to enter workplaces providing they meet a number of statutory requirements;
- assisting or representing their members during Fair Work Commission proceedings; and
- making an application to vary a modern award outside of the 4-yearly modern award review process.
Under the RO Act, registered organisations must comply with detailed regulations in relation to registration, rules, financial reporting, elections, conduct of officers and other matters. The Government has committed to increase the statutory and fiduciary obligations on registered organisations to more closely align them with those that corporations have to meet. The main changes are:
- increasing civil penalties and introducing criminal offences for serious breaches of officers’ duties;
- increasing the requirements surrounding officers’ disclosure of material personal interests, and changes to grounds for disqualification and ineligibility for office; and
- strengthening financial accounting and disclosure obligations under the RO.
An options-stage RIS was certified by the Department of Employment under the July 2013 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements.
4 November 2013
On 30 October 2013, Safe Work Australia released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement examining measures to manage work safety risks in stevedoring.
Safe Work Australia is seeking to address poor safety performance in the stevedoring industry demonstrated by the high rate of fatalities and serious injuries relative to other industries. Problems that may be contributing to poor safety performance include:
- the lack of good quality guidance for the stevedoring industry;
- low uptake of the existing guidance by jurisdictional regulators;
- poor compliance within the jurisdictions that have adopted existing guidance; and
- debate within the industry on reasonably practicable solutions to eliminate or minimise stevedoring hazards and risks.
The Consultation Regulation Impact Statement seeks stakeholder comments on options to address these problems, including:
- updating existing guidance;
- introducing a model code of practice; and
- introducing new specific legislation.
This Council of Australian Governments Consultation Regulation Impact Statement was approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The consultation period will close on 29 November 2013.
30 October 2013
On 15 October 2013, the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister released for public consideration draft legislation repealing the carbon tax. The repeal is a specific election commitment of the Government.
The carbon tax is directly applied to a limited range of inputs, and is paid by a relatively small number of businesses or ‘liable entities’. The carbon tax directly increases the cost of: electricity and gas; managing landfill and wastewater; liquid fuels for off-road use; synthetic greenhouse gases.
However, because these products and services are inputs to a wide range of other processes through the economy, the price of many other goods and services are indirectly increased as a result of the tax.
The repeal of the carbon tax is likely to have two main effects:
- Reduction of both the input prices faced by business and household living costs. It is estimated that consumer price index will fall by around 0.7 percentage points, and reduce the annual household cost of living by around $550 in 2014-15.
- Elimination of compliance costs faced by liable entities. The carbon tax regime requires liable entities to monitor and report on carbon emissions, as well as acquire and surrender emission permits. In addition, large carbon emitters are required to have these activities independently audited/verified. The repeal of the carbon tax will remove the need for these businesses to incur such costs. The compliance cost is estimated to be $94.8 million lower as a result.
An options-stage Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared by the Department of the Environment. Consistent with the Government’s best practice regulation requirements, alternatives to the election commitment were not considered in the RIS. The RIS focussed on the commitment and how the commitment should be implemented. Consistent with the July 2013 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements, the options-stage RIS was certified as adequate by a Deputy Secretary from Department for the Environment.
14 October 2013
On 11 October 2013, ABARES published a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) on potential changes to improve the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats. The consultation RIS notes that NLIS for sheep and goats currently does not enable tracing of animals to the standards required under the National Livestock Traceability Performance Standards. Accurate and timely livestock traceability is important for managing biosecurity, food safety, and animal welfare risks.
The consultation RIS seeks feedback on the identified options for improving the NLIS, the proposed method for economic analysis and other aspects of the document. Three options for improving the current NLIS have been analysed:
Option 1: Enhanced mob-based system—enhancement of the existing mob-based system with improvements in the verification and enforcement of business rules throughout the supply chain.
Option 2: Electronic Identification (EID) system—the electronic tagging of animals with exemptions for sheep and goats sold directly from their property of birth to abattoirs or export depots.
Option 3: EID system without exemptions.
The Consultation RIS does not identify any preferred option for implementation.
Following the public consultation process, the impact analysis of the options will be revised and updated with a view to making a recommendation on a preferred option to the Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI) as part of the Decision stage RIS.
The public consultation on these proposals runs for eight-weeks, closing 5pm AEDT Friday, 6 December 2013. Further information on the consultation process can be found here.
The consultation RIS was prepared by ABARES for the Standing Council on Primary Industries and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.
9 October 2013
On 4 September 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) tabled (see also here) legislation altering the formula behind the annual numbering charge (ANC) – a per number levy which telecommunications firms that hold phone numbers are required to pay. The changes exempt four types of short-digit access codes from the ANC.
The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) notes that the previous charges levied on the specific short-digit access codes acted as a potential barrier to entry. Exempting these access codes from the ANC may allow greater opportunities for new and smaller firms to enter and fully participate in the telecommunications market, which is likely to benefit consumers. As the total amount raised by the ANC is determined by legislation, exempting these access codes will mean that the levy on other numbers will increase to maintain the total amount raised at the desired level.
The RIS was prepared by the ACMA and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation under the June 2010 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements.
24 September 2013
On 6 September 2013, the Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) made changes to the Capital Adequacy and Solvency Standards for private health insurers.
The Capital Adequacy and Solvency Standards ensure that as far as practicable, the financial position of a health benefits fund conducted by a private health insurer is such that the private health insurer will be able to meet its liabilities, and carry enough capital for the conduct of the fund in the accordance with the Private Health Insurance Act 2007 (Cth), and in the interests of the policy holders of the health benefits fund.
The changes to the Capital Adequacy and Solvency Standards ensure that the Standards more accurately address the key risks faced by insurers, improve insurers’ engagement with those risks and improve the quality of information available to support PHIAC’s regulation of the industry. In general the changes to the Standards will lower capital requirements. The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) notes that across the industry, capital requirements could reduce by around 60 per cent (around $1 billion).
The revised Standards are designed to ensure that private health insurers continue to hold both enough assets (total quantum) and sufficient assets of the right type (sufficiently liquid) within their health benefits fund(s) in order to meet its liabilities in total and as they fall due.
PHIAC also made minor amendments to the Private Health Insurance (Insurer Obligations) Rules 2009 to remove obsolete references to margins, and provide a role for actuaries in assessing the reasonableness of stress test outcomes required in the Capital Adequacy Standard.
The proposal was assessed as likely to have a limited impact on the broader economy with no material competition impacts and was therefore given a C rating (on a scale of A to D) in relation to the level of analysis required.
Under the Australian Government’s best practice regulation requirements (effective from 8 July 2013), agencies retain the option of preparing a full RIS in a single stage, that is, without preparing an options-stage RIS beforehand, if no decision has been previously announced.
A single-stage RIS was prepared, and has been certified by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of PHIAC in accordance with these requirements.
The OBPR has assessed that the single-stage RIS contains an adequate level of analysis and meets the Government’s best practice regulation requirements. The OBPR’s full assessment is contained in the attached document.
24 September 2013
On 18 September 2013, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) registered a continuation of an area closure, aimed at protecting dolphins in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The closure prohibits fishing by gillnets, in an area of the fishery off the South Australian coast, for a period of one year. Other measures will also be put in place, most notably 100 per cent monitoring requirements in areas adjacent to the closure, and allowing the use the hook fishing.
The proposal has been assessed by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) as likely to have relatively minor impacts on the broader economy and has therefore given this a ‘D’ rating (on a scale of A to D) in relation to the level of analysis required.
The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) looked at three options, and recommended the regulatory option. AFMA believe that without the closure and associated measures, the fishery’s accreditation and future operation could be at risk. They estimate that the closure will reduce revenue in the fishery by a maximum of $2.5 million per annum, if operators decide not to fish elsewhere in the fishery.
The OBPR notes that as no decision has been previously announced an options-stage RIS was not required and that AFMA elected to undertake a single-stage RIS.
The RIS was prepared and certified by AFMA and approved by the OBPR under the July 2013 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements.
20 September 2013
On 18 September 2013, the Government issued its Administrative Arrangement Orders (AAOs), which took effect immediately. As part of the AAOs, portfolio responsibility for deregulation matters and the OBPR moved from the Department of Finance and Deregulation to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The OBPR in due course will provide information on our new email and website addresses. In the meantime, please continue to use http://ris.finance.gov.au.
18 September 2013
On 13 August 2013, the former Minister for Road Safety tabled new legislation requiring the installation of ABS in new heavy commercial vehicles. ABS is a technology that prevents wheels from locking when a vehicle is overbraked and increases the safety of a vehicle. It is an advanced technology that is already used by a significant portion of the commercial heavy vehicle fleet.
The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) notes the considerable cost of road crashes on Australian society. It considers four options: the status quo; deleting the relevant Australian Design Rules; non-regulatory options; and the preferred option of mandating ABS installation.
Overall, the RIS concludes that, due to the advanced nature of the technology, there is effectively a small positive net benefit to the community for each additional heavy vehicle fitted with ABS even as the voluntary fitment rate approaches 100 per cent. Therefore the preferred option is expected to achieve a higher net benefit than the other options. The details of the preferred option were partly shaped by the extensive consultation the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) undertook on this issue.
The RIS was prepared by the DIT and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation under the June 2010 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements.
5 September 2013
On 1 August 2013, the Treasurer announced that the tobacco excise will be increased by 50 per cent over a four year period – a 12.5 per cent increase each year.
The options-stage Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) prepared by Treasury notes that smoking tobacco may provide a number of benefits to consumers, including immediate pleasure, control of stress, improved self image and avoidance of withdrawal symptoms. However, it is also considered that there are costs to smoking tobacco which include: serious illness, such as cancer and premature death; deferral of expenditure away from necessities by lower income households; and diversion of health related resources, such as hospital beds. It is considered that social and economic costs of tobacco use are $31.5 billion each year.
Tobacco is currently regulated in a number of ways, including: where tobacco can be consumed; the nature of tobacco packaging; and various taxes and charges including excise.
Despite existing arrangements, it is considered that tobacco consumption continues to have serious health and economic impacts for individuals, their families and societies.
Under the new best practice regulation requirements (effective from 8 July 2013) Australian Government departments and agencies, rather than the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR), self assess the adequacy of their options-stage RISs. In particular, agencies must certify that the problem being addressed and the objectives of government action are well articulated; and that a range of feasible options, including regulation, no regulation or light handed regulation and do nothing, have been considered.
Before relevant legislation and/or regulation is finalised, Treasury will need to prepare a details-stage RIS that is informed by consultation on this options-stage RIS. The details-stage RIS is formally assessed by the OBPR.
A Deputy Secretary of the Treasury certified that this options-stage RIS meets the Government’s best practice regulation requirements.