Cost Of Living

04 Feb 2009 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question on the subject of the cost of living in South Australia.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 5 April 2006, the Premier issued a press release entitled 'Cutting red tape to make South Australia even more competitive', in which he states that he wishes to make South Australia the most competitive jurisdiction either side of the Tasman, that is, to compete with New Zealand as well as with other Australian states. He states that he has charged the Economic Development Board with the task of 'urgently looking into a range of areas where improvements can be made across the entire business environment', including among those things 'cost of living'. He also goes on to say: I also want to exceed Business SA's target of a 25% reduction in red tape by July 2008. It was revealed yesterday on some price watch websites that the price of petrol in Adelaide is the highest in the nation and, in terms of a basket of groceries, it is the second-highest in the nation. My question to the minister is: what representations has she made to the Premier over his clearly failed policies?

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): The Office of Consumer and Business Affairs has played a very significant role in the government's red tape reduction program, the associated costs of which, of course, are passed on to businesses and, hopefully, the community. I am advised that during 2007-08 OCBA's reforms contributed to $12.31 million in red tape reduction savings, and the state government had a targeted annual saving of $150 million during that period. In 2008-09 new projects commenced, and they will provide even further reductions in the order of $5.4 million. Some of the proposed initiatives include the mutual recognition of licences—the assisted application process for trade licences to allow faster processing of tradespeople. It is being extended to include interstate licences and overseas qualifications. Various IT changes are being made to accommodate that, and I am advised that the new system is planned to be in place by mid-2009.

The reinstatement of licences is another area. Currently, when tradespeople unintentionally allow their licence to lapse, often as an administrative oversight (they are busy people), they can be granted a new licence after paying a cancellation penalty. They end up with a new licence number, and this can obviously lead to considerable expense because it means changes have to be made to their letterheads, business cards, accounts and vehicles, as well as advertising material and bookings so that the new licence number is reflected in an appropriate way. Changes will be made to administrative procedures to allow licences to retain their existing number. I am advised that that is expected to be in place some time in 2009. Services SA has opened 10 service centres in the metropolitan area, and this will give OCBA customers more choice of places to carry out transactions, places which may be closer to their business and, hopefully, it will reduce travelling time, provide parking, and so on. That is scheduled for commencement at the beginning of 2009. The estimated savings for that are around $272,000 per annum.

Further savings can be expected through COAG reforms, including the uniform product safety laws, which are scheduled to be introduced by 2010-11. That is estimated to create a saving of $2.5 million per annum. Initiatives also include trade measurement transfer to the commonwealth, and testing fees will be abolished. That is scheduled to commence in 2010, with a saving of $612,000 per annum. Business names are being transferred to the commonwealth, with the national registration of business names scheduled to commence in 2011-12. Although details of those particular savings are not available, nevertheless we do predict that there will be some savings. So, you can see that there are a number of initiatives that have been put in place to help reduce red tape. A great deal has been done in the past and, as you can see, we have a busy year ahead of us.