22 July 2014

Maximum level for tutin in honey – COAG Consultation Regulation Impact Statement – Food Standards Australia New Zealand

On 10 July 2014 Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued a call for submissions in response to its proposal to introduce a permanent maximum level (ML) for tutin in honey.

Tutin is a plant-derived neurotoxin, which can sometimes be present in honey produced in parts of New Zealand. Following a severe poisoning incident in New Zealand in 2008 temporary MLs for tutin in honey and comb honey were adopted into the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code while further research and evaluation was conducted. The temporary MLs are due to expire on 31 March 2015.

FSANZ is proposing that the MLs of tutin in honey and comb honey be reduced from the current temporary levels, and be made permanent. This recommendation is based on scientific research that indicates that some people may have adverse reactions to tutin even at levels below the current temporary MLs. The proposed levels may result in higher testing and blending costs for some New Zealand honey producers, but will reduce the risk to public health from tutin poisoning.

A Council of Australian Governments Consultation RIS has been prepared by the FSANZ, and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.

FSANZ will receive submissions on the proposal until 21 August 2014.


17 July 2014

Superannuation Entities Accounting Standard – Regulation Impact Statement – Australian Accounting Standards Board

On 6 June 2014, the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) announced a replacement accounting standard for superannuation entities.

The existing standard was considered out of date because of significant changes in Australia’s superannuation industry over the last two decades and the adoption in Australia of International Financial Reporting Standards.

Key changes in the replacement standard were to:

  • measure assets using fair value instead of net market value;
  • measure defined benefit member liability annually instead of triennially;
  • provide guidance on when an insurance exposure might exist; and
  • require additional disclosures relating to liabilities, risks, type of members and their benefits.

The proposal has been assessed as likely to have a measurable but limited impact on the economy with minor impacts on competition.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared and certified by the AASB under the March 2014 Australian Government Guide to Regulation, and has been assessed as compliant by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR). However, the preparation of the RIS was not consistent with best practice because the impacts of the new standard on affected stakeholders’ financial statements were not sufficiently examined.

The RIS estimates the regulatory cost is $1.2 million per annum, and identifies offsets. The OBPR has agreed to the regulatory cost and offset estimates.


15 July 2014

Correction of webpost - Revocation of the Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines and the Fair Work Principles

Coverage of the OBPR’s webpost of 10 July 2014 has highlighted an error in the OBPR’s summary of the RIS. In particular, the summary incorrectly stated that “Individual employees undertaking cleaning work under a contract subject to the Guidelines – there were 25 to 30 contracts extant at the time the Guidelines were revoked – may receive lower remuneration when their current employment agreements expire.”

The OBPR has since corrected the webpost.


10 July 2014

Repeal of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities Program – Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Industry

On 15 May 2014, the Minister for Industry and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister announced the repeal of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program.

The original EEO program required all entities with energy use of greater than 0.5 petajoules (PJ) per year to: audit their energy use; identify opportunities to increase energy efficiency; and provide reports to the government and public.  The program was later extended to electricity generators and new developments and expansion projects.

The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) prepared by the Department of Industry notes the EEO program has provided some benefits. These include the implementation of more energy efficient processes in some companies. However, the RIS notes that the rationale for the program is no longer the same since it commenced in 2006. Rising energy prices have driven companies to better consider energy use and the program has successfully embedded energy management practices in many companies.

In addition, the RIS notes that the majority of the benefits from the program may accrue early in the assessment process but fall over time after more energy efficiency processes are implemented. In the context of falling benefits, the RIS examines the cost effectiveness of continuing the program, particularly in light of the Government’s strong commitment to removing the red-tape burden on businesses. The RIS compares repealing the scheme to retaining the current regulatory scheme as well as an option to alter the current scheme to be more streamlined, and concludes that repealing the EEO is the preferred option.

The RIS estimates that repealing the scheme will save businesses around $17 million annually in compliance costs. The reduction in compliance cost estimates mostly result from removing the administration burden placed on affected businesses to produce and report on energy efficiency assessment plans.

A RIS was prepared by the Department of Industry and assessed as complaint with the Australian Government Guide to Regulation and consistent with best practice by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR).


10 July 2014

National Licensing of Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Occupations – COAG Decision RIS – Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations

On 13 December 2013 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform.

The National Licensing of Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Occupations Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) examines the impact of replacing the current diverse state and territory licensing of the refrigeration and air-conditioning occupational area with a proposed national licensing approach. It considers the impact that each option would have on industry, consumers and government and is informed by stakeholder feedback on the options outlined in the Consultation RIS, which was released on 13 August 2012. It acknowledges that the status quo is the default option.

A Decision RIS was prepared by the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The Decision RIS was published on the NOLA website in July 2013 as part of the consultation process prior to the decision on the reform.


10 July 2014

National Licensing of Property Occupations – COAG Decision RIS – Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations

On 13 December 2013 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform.

The National Licensing of Property Occupations Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) examines the impact of replacing the current diverse state and territory licensing of the property occupational area with a national licensing system. It also examines an automatic mutual recognition option. It considers the impact that both options would have on industry, consumers and government, and is informed by stakeholder feedback on the options proposed in the Consultation RIS. The Decision RIS also acknowledges that the status quo would be the default option.

A Decision RIS was prepared by the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The Decision RIS was published on the NOLA website in July 2013 as part of the consultation process prior to the decision on the reform.


10 July 2014

National Licensing of Electrical Occupations – COAG Decision RIS – Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations

On 13 December 2013 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform.

The National Licensing of Electrical Occupations Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) examines the impact of replacing the current diverse state and territory licensing of the electrical occupational area with a national licensing system. It also examines an automatic mutual recognition option. It considers the impact that both options would have on industry, consumers and government, and is informed by stakeholder feedback on the options proposed in the Consultation RIS. The Decision RIS also acknowledges that the status quo would be the default option.

A Decision RIS was prepared by the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The Decision RIS was published on the NOLA website in July 2013 as part of the consultation process prior to the decision on the reform.


10 July 2014

National Licensing of Plumbing and Gasfitting Occupations – COAG Decision RIS – Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations

On 13 December 2013 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform.

The National Licensing of Plumbing and Gasfitting Occupations Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) examines the impact of replacing the current diverse state and territory licensing of the plumbing and gasfitting occupational area with a proposed national licensing approach. It also examines an automatic mutual recognition option. It considers the impact that each option would have on industry, consumers and government and is informed by stakeholder feedback on the options outlined in the Consultation RIS, which was released on 13 August 2012. It acknowledges that the status quo would be the default option.

A Decision RIS was prepared by the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The Decision RIS was published on the NOLA website in July 2013 as part of the consultation process prior to the decision on the reform.


10 July 2014

Revocation of the Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines and the Fair Work Principles– Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Employment

On 26 June 2014, the Minister for Employment made an instrument to revoke the Commonwealth Cleaning Service Guidelines (‘the Guidelines’). The Minister previously revoked the Fair Work Principles (‘the Principles’) as part of the Autumn 2013 Repeal Day; the revocation takes effect from the commencement of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 on 1 July 2014.

The aim of the Principles was to ensure that government procurement decisions are consistent with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act), and required organisations tendering for Government contracts to declare their compliance with the Fair Work Act. The Guidelines contained mandatory requirements that relate to Australian Government Cleaning Services tenders and contracts, and paying employees above award rates of pay and a number of cleaning services industry workplace relations mandatory practices.

The revocation of the Principles and the Guidelines is expected to reduce compliance costs for firms tendering for and providing goods and services to the Commonwealth Government. The reduction in costs is estimated to be in the order of $5 million per year over 10 years.

The proposal has been assessed as likely to have a measurable but contained impact on the economy with minor impact on competition.

An options-stage Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared by the department and was published on 18 March 2014.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared and certified by the department under the March 2014 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements, and has been assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR).

The OBPR advises that the process followed by the department and the level of analysis contained in the RIS was consistent with best practice, and the OBPR has agreed to the regulatory cost saving estimate.


8 July 2014

Extending Unfair Contract Term Protections to Small Business – COAG Consultation Regulation Impact Statement – Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand

On 23 May 2014 Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) on extending unfair contract term protections for standard form contracts to small businesses.

Standard form contracts are often prepared by businesses for transactions that are of low value and repeated with a large number of parties. Previous research has found that standard form contract terms and conditions can disadvantage consumers who do not have the ability to review or negotiate standard form contracts. Consequently, Unfair Contract Terms in standard form consumer contracts are now regulated by provisions in the Australian Consumer Law.

The RIS identifies the possibility that small businesses may face similar problems as consumers when engaging in contracts. Small businesses may encounter the same lack of scope for negotiation, or may have a lack of time and access to technical or legal advice.

The RIS concludes that the introduction of an Unfair Contract Terms regime for contracts offered to small businesses would result in fairer contract terms and a potentially more efficient distribution of risk.

The RIS notes that at present there is limited empirical evidence about the scope of the problem and that the benefits and costs of any options to address the problem are difficult to measure.

Public consultation is currently open on the Treasury website. The consultation period closes on 1 August 2014.

A COAG Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand and has been approved by the OBPR.