Monday, 24 March 2014

Repeal Day = Pseudo Reform

In Tony Abbott's pseudo reform on the spin cycle Ross Gittins writes that the Government's "repeal day" is more about spin than actual deregulation.
In the process, of course, we'll have changed the meaning of ''red tape''. It's meant to mean bureaucratic requirements that waste people's time without delivering any public benefit. In the hands of the spin doctors, however, it's being used to encompass everything from removing dead statutes to the supposed deregulation of industries.

Repealing redundant laws and regulations dating back as far as 1900 is mere window dressing. By definition they don't waste anyone's time - if they did they'd have been repealed long ago. Their primary purpose is to allow Tony Abbott to quote huge numbers: today I announce the abolition of more than 1000 acts of Parliament and the repeal of more than 9500 regulations. A trick you can pull only once.

Somewhere in there is some genuine, time-wasting red tape we're better off without, but it doesn't add up to much - hence the need for so much padding. Governments of both colours are always promising to roll back red tape, mainly because it gives people such an emotional charge.
Ross goes on to point out that what seems red tape to some may actually be important for the economy and country (e.g. "supplying information to the Bureau of Statistics").

The other problem with this "repeal day" is that it's hiding some controversial moves:
But the most objectionable feature of the whole red tape Repeal Day charade is the way it has been used as cover for rent-seeking by the Coalition's industry backers. It's an open secret the protections for investors provided by the Future of Financial Advice legislation are being watered down at the behest of the big banks, which want to be freer to incentivise unqualified sales people to sell inappropriate investment products to mug punters.

Then there's the strange case of the Charity Commission,which was set up only recently to reduce inefficient regulation and red tape. It's to be abolished despite the objections of most charities, presumably because the Catholic Church doesn't like it. It's being claimed all these dubious doings will ''drive productivity, innovation and employment opportunities'', not to mention ''creating the right environment for businesses of all sizes to thrive and prosper and to drive investment and jobs growth''.
Ross also asks show the Government came up with the supposed savings of $700 million a year:
Yeah sure. The claimed savings of $700 million a year (don't ask how that figure was arrived at) are equivalent to 0.04 per cent of GDP, and yet they'll work wonders. Must be an incredible multiplier effect.

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