22 July 2016

Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

On 6 May 2016, the Government announced that Australia would join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international standard for increased transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sectors.

The EITI provides a global standard for extractive industry companies to publish what they pay to governments, and for governments to disclose what they receive, in the form of taxes, royalties and other statutory payments.

Under the Australian Government’s preferred model for implementing the EITI, large entities will be required to report payments above a pre-determined payment threshold, with industry coverage varying in inverse proportion to the threshold. However, government bodies will report all aggregated payments received. This approach recognises that Australia already has robust reporting mechanisms and compliance arrangements that apply to the extractive industries. As such, it proposes to focus on gaps and localised opportunities for enhanced transparency and effectiveness, rather than examining and reconciling all individual payment data, given Australia’s particular circumstances.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and was assessed as compliant and consistent with best practice by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.

The RIS estimates the proposals will increase regulatory burden by $120,000 per annum. The OBPR agreed to the regulatory costs and offsets.


20 July 2016

Changes to Media Ownership and Control Rules

Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Communications and the Arts

On 2 March 2016 the Minister for Communications introduced the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill. The bill removes two media ownership and control rules that prevent a person, in their own right or as a director of one or more companies from controlling:

  • more than two of the three regulated media platforms (commercial television, commercial radio and associated newspapers) in any commercial radio licence area (the 2 out of 3 rule); and
  • commercial television licences whose combined licence area populations exceed 75 per cent of the Australian population (the 75 per cent audience reach rule).

It also imposes new local television content requirements on regional commercial television licensees when they become part of a commonly controlled group of licences that collectively reach more than 75 per cent of the Australian population.

The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) prepared by the Department of Communications and the Arts was assessed as compliant with the Government’s RIS requirements but not consistent with best practice because the level of analysis was not commensurate with the likely impacts on businesses, individuals and competition and the views of stakeholders on the specifics of the preferred options were not clearly identified.

The proposals are expected to increase regulatory burden by $3.51 million on an annualised basis. The regulatory costs were agreed with the OBPR.

As the proposal has been assessed by the OBPR as having a substantial and measureable impact on the media sector and the economy, the Australian Government’s RIS process requires a post‑implementation review to be completed within five years of being implemented.


20 July 2016

Card Payments

Regulation Impact Statement – Reserve Bank of Australia

On 26 May 2016, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Payments Systems Board announced several changes applying to regulation of debit and credit cards. The changes are intended to strengthen the operation of existing regulations that:

  • limit transactions fees that banks charge each other each time a debit or credit card is used (interchange fees); and
  • prohibit merchants from imposing excessive surcharges on consumers when using a debit or credit card.

The main change the Board made to interchange fees was to introduce caps on any individual interchange fee. No credit card interchange fee will be permitted to exceed 0.80 per cent and no debit card interchange fee will be able to exceed 15 cents if levied as a fixed amount or 0.20 per cent if levied as a percentage amount. Previously, interchange fees were only limited by weighted-average benchmarks.

The weighted-average benchmarks remain the primary element of interchange regulation. The weighted-average benchmark for debit cards will be lowered from 12 cents to 8 cents. The weighted-average benchmark for credit cards remains at 0.50 per cent.

As some of the highest interchange fees are applied to sales by smaller merchants the main beneficiaries of the Board’s changes are likely to be smaller merchants and their customers.

The other key change the Board made was to define permissible surcharges for credit and debit card purchases, which will better enable the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to enforce rules prohibiting excessive surcharging.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared and certified by the Reserve Bank of Australia and has been assessed as compliant by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR). The OBPR has assessed that the process followed by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the level of analysis contained in the RIS was consistent with best practice.

The RIS estimates the average annual regulatory cost at $5.8 million per annum. The OBPR has agreed to the regulatory cost estimates.


17 June 2016

Guidelines for medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical and surgical procedures

Non-compliance with COAG’s best practice regulation requirements – Medical Board of Australia

On 9 May 2016, the Medical Board of Australia issued mandatory guidelines to apply to all registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical or surgical procedures. The guidelines are given effect under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and cover matters such as patient assessment and informed consent, patient management, facilities and advertising practices.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) best practice regulation requirements apply to decisions by ministerial councils or national standards-setting bodies where there is a reasonable expectation of widespread compliance. As such, the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) has assessed that the COAG requirements apply in the case of the decision to issue mandatory guidelines for medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical or surgical procedures.

Under the COAG requirements a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) is prepared for the consultation stage, and for the decision stage. A RIS was prepared for consultation by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, but a RIS assessed as adequate by the OBPR was not provided for the decision. The OBPR has consequently assessed the proposal as being non-compliant with the COAG best practice regulation requirements at the decision stage.


16 June 2016

Review of the Radiofrequency Spectrum Management Framework

Independent Review – Department of Communications and the Arts

On 25 August 2015, the Government announced its response to the Spectrum Review, agreeing to:

  • replace the current legislative arrangements with new legislation that removes prescriptive process and streamlines licensing, for a simpler and more flexible framework;
  • better integrate the management of public sector and broadcasting spectrum to improve the consistency and integrity of the framework; and
  • review spectrum pricing to ensure consistent and transparent arrangements to support the efficient use of spectrum and secondary markets.

The review was undertaken by the Department of Communications, in conjunction with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and was certified by the Department as meeting the requirements of a Regulation Impact Statement. Under the Australian Government Guide to Regulation, the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) does not assess independent reviews.

The Department estimates the average annual regulatory cost savings to be about $450,000, and this has been agreed by the OBPR.


9 June 2016

Enhanced Register of Financial Advisers

Regulation Impact Statement – Department of the Treasury

On 16 February 2015 the Government registered the Corporations Amendment (Register of Relevant Providers) Regulation 2015. The regulation establishes a public register of all people providing personal advice on more complex financial products to retail clients.

The Government announced it would establish a register of financial advisers on 17 July 2014 and announced details of the content of the register on 24 October 2014. The Government requested the Treasury to prepare a post-decision Regulation Impact Statement for the proposed register after consulting with stakeholders on the likely regulatory costs.

The Treasury submitted a post-decision Regulation Impact Statement for final assessment and was assessed as compliant by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR).

The RIS estimates the average regulatory cost at $2.05 million per annum, and identifies offsets. The OBPR has agreed to the regulatory cost and offset estimates.


3 June 2016

Review of the Terrorism Insurance Scheme

Independent Review – Department of the Treasury

On 15 December 2015, the Treasury released the latest statutory review on Australia’s terrorism insurance scheme. The scheme provides terrorism reinsurance, generally for commercial property, associated business interruption and public liability classes of insurance.

Consistent with best practice requirements, the Treasury certified the review has undertaken a process and analysis equivalent to a RIS. The review estimates the regulatory cost at about $5,200 per annum and identifies offsets. Under the Government’s best practice regulation requirements, the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) does not assess independent reviews. Regulatory costs and offset estimates have been agreed with the OBPR.


1 June 2016

Registered Organisations

Final Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Employment

On 18 April 2016, the Australian Government re-tabled legislation changing the regulation of registered organisations. It was previously tabled on 19 March 2015.

Registered organisations are those employer and employee associations that are registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (RO Act) to allow them to represent the interests of their members in certain workplace matters.

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 main changes in the legislation are:

  • increasing civil penalties and introducing criminal offences for serious breaches of officers’ duties;
  • amending 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 Act.

The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) estimates the additional compliance costs for registered organisations at $137,942 a year across all organisations. These costs have been agreed with the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR).

The RIS was prepared and certified by the Department of Employment, and has been assessed as compliant with the Government’s RIS requirements and consistent with best practice by the OBPR.


1 June 2016

Problem Gambling

Post-implementation Review no longer required – Department of Social Services

On 21 January 2012 the then Government announced plans to tackle problem gambling. The measures included:

  • introducing a $250 daily withdrawal limit from ATMs in gaming venues (excluding casinos) by 1 February 2013.

A Regulation Impact Statement was required before the announcement of the measure but was not submitted to the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) for assessment. Consequently, the OBPR assessed the measures as being non-compliant with the Australian Government’s best practice regulation requirements. A Post-implementation Review was therefore required within two years from the implementation.

An exemption from the PIR requirements can be obtained for regulation which has previously been implemented and is no longer in force or no longer government policy. This change to the Australian Government’s best practice regulation requirements came into effect in December 2015. Approval for this exemption needs to be obtained in writing from the Prime Minister.

The measure was in place between 1 February 2014 and 31 March 2014, at which time the relevant legislation was amended, effectively reversing the decision. As such, the measure no longer reflected Government policy. The Assistant Cabinet Secretary, on behalf of the Prime Minister, had agreed to remove the requirement for a PIR to be undertaken on the measure on 3 February 2016.


1 June 2016

Combating multinational tax avoidance

Regulation Impact Statement – Department of the Treasury

On 16 September 2015, the then Treasurer introduced legislation to reduce the opportunities and incentives for multinational tax avoidance. The legislation allows the Commissioner of Taxation to ignore, for the purposes of determining taxable Australian income, artificial or contrived structures used by multinationals to avoid having a taxable presence in Australia. It also implements the OECD’s Country‑by-Country reporting regime and increases the administrative penalties for tax avoidance faced by multinationals.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) prepared by the Department of the Treasury has been assessed as compliant and consistent with best practice by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.

The RIS estimates the proposals will increase regulatory burden by $23.25 million per annum. The OBPR agreed to the regulatory costs and offsets.