Consumer And Business Affairs Office

16 Jun 2009 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs questions about red tape.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 4 February this year I asked the minister about red tape. In her answer she stated that the Office for Consumer and Business Affairs (OCBA) intended to implement projects in this current financial year to achieve a reduction of red tape in the order of some $5.4 million.

In the 2009-10 budget papers, OCBA's Consumer and Business Affairs Division expects to increase income derived from fees, fines and penalties by some $1.59 million, which is an increase of nearly 13 per cent and over five times the CPI. My questions to the minister are:

1. What is the status of OCBA's IT systems changes that are due to be completed at the end of this financial year?

2. How does this massive hike contribute to the government's stated aim of reducing red tape by 25 per cent, and was it contained within OCBA's action plan?

3. Does the fact that the pages on the government's Competitiveness Council website——have not been updated since 2007 indicate that the government's commitment to red tape reduction is a complete joke?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy) (14:41): I thank the honourable member for her ongoing interest in this very important area. Indeed, as I have stated in this place before, the Office of Consumer Affairs plays a very important role in contributing to the government's red tape reduction strategy.

During 2007-08, OCBA's reforms alone contributed to around $12 million in red tape reduction; so, our track record is indeed impressive. New projects commenced in 2008-09 will further contribute to red tape reduction savings. I have put on the record before the $2.6 million, with potential savings in the vicinity of $6.8 million in 2009-10, and further savings as a result of COAG initiatives in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

I have spoken before about the 2008-09 initiatives and the sorts of savings that we have made around the mutual recognition of licences, assisting the application process for trade licences and allowing faster processing of tradespeople, as well as the recognition of overseas qualifications and various IT changes that are being made to accommodate that. I am advised that the new system will be in place later this year, with savings amounting to $2.58 million. In terms of where that specific program is up to, I am happy to take that part of the question on notice and bring back a response.

In relation to the 2009-10 initiatives, and specifically the abolition of recreational services, the Limitation of Liability Act 2002 was introduced to allow amateur recreational and sporting groups to limit their liabilities at a time when we all know it was quite difficult to obtain public liability insurance, the impact of which was that some organisations had to close down.

The issue of codes did not work very well, so we made changes, clubs having reported significant costs associated with the development of those codes. We have made changes to our proposed legislative reforms that again will provide significant streamlining of provisions for those recreational clubs. The abolition of the need for codes will allow 511 sporting organisations to better manage their liability. I am told that the savings that that will generate amount to around $5 million.

In terms of other significant developments dealing with counter transactions for Service SA (particularly in the metropolitan area but also in some regional areas), we are opening 10 service centres in the metropolitan area, which will give customers a much greater choice and facilitate their access and ability to undertake those transactions.

We have stated in this place previously that we have developed call centres, which provide better referral and reporting on the movement of transactions. We have put a number of services online, so that businesses and members of the public do not have to go into a building to conduct their transactions. That has considerably streamlined services, which I have been advised will potentially provide savings of about $1.7 million starting in 2009-10.

The COAG reforms have provided significant reforms in the uniform product safety laws, which will mean a significant reduction in red tape, which I am advised will provide savings in the vicinity of $.5 million. I have reported in this place previously that I have been advised that the trade measurement transfer to the commonwealth will provide about $0.6 million in savings, and significant potential savings will flow from the transfer of business names to the commonwealth. So, not only does our past track record demonstrate our commitment to reducing red tape but we will actively pursue into the future a program to consolidate those red tape savings as well.