11 November 2014
On 14 October 2014, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Investment and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced that the Government will reform the 457 visa programme for skilled migrants.
This follows the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announcing an independent review into the integrity of the 457 programme in February 2014.
The 457 programme is a temporary programme aimed at meeting skills shortages. It allows businesses to address labour shortages by sponsoring genuinely skilled overseas workers.
The review was conducted by an independent panel which made several recommendations, which were assessed by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) as likely to have a measurable but contained impact on the economy.
The review was certified by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) as meeting the requirements of a Regulation Impact Statement for an early assessment. Under the Australian Government Guide to Regulation, the OBPR does not assess independent reviews.
The Department estimates the average annual regulatory savings to be approximately $29.9 million, and this has been agreed by the OBPR for the purpose of consultation.
28 October 2014
On 9 October 2014, the Department of Agriculture released a draft Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for consultation on Reducing the Regulation of Stock food and Pet food.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) regulate supply aspects of foods for livestock, pets, working animals, show animals and for any product that meets the definition of a Veterinary Chemical Product. The RIS discusses the case for reform to achieve greater alignment of regulatory effort and burden associated with stock foods given the risks posed by these products.
The RIS explores two alternative options for reform:
- self-determination of Veterinary Chemical Products in which manufacturers would be allowed to self-determine a product’s registration, subject to the product meeting certain requirements relating to claims, labels, manufacture and ingredients; and
- listing of nutritional/digestive stock food products as chemical products with prescribed criteria similar to the self-determination process but retaining APVMA pre-assessment.
The RIS seeks stakeholder views on the costs and benefits of the options presented. The department is seeking written stakeholder comments on both the RIS and draft regulatory amendments by 7 November 2014.
The proposal has been assessed as likely to have a measurable but contained impact on the economy.
The OBPR has agreed to provisional regulatory cost savings of $7.8 million per annum for the self‑determination option.
28 October 2014
In November 2013, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) decided to amend the National Construction Code (NCC) to remove the existing requirement for fire hose reels in new residential buildings, other than houses, and instead require additional fire extinguishers.
Currently fire hose reels are required by the NCC as a first fire attack system provided for use by residents. Although regarded as effective when used correctly, there were concerns that fire hose reels are infrequently, or are inappropriately, used by building occupants when faced by fire. Given they are also expensive to install, the contention was that fire hose reels may not be the most cost‑effective solution.
A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) compared the cost effectiveness of the status quo against replacing fire hose reels with additional fire extinguishers and found the second option delivered a net benefit of $138 million (in net present value terms) and acceptable fire safety.
The ABCB office prepared a decision RIS that was provided to the Australian Building Codes Board for their decision. The RIS was assessed as compliant by the Office of Best Practice Regulation under the Council of Australian Governments requirements.
The ABCB previously prepared a Consultation RIS on this matter.
27 October 2014
On 11 September 2014, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Victoria, invited submissions on the proposal to introduce nationally consistent rules for the care and management of livestock during their transition through saleyards and depots in Australia.
Saleyards are places where livestock are bought and sold, usually by auction. Depots are facilities or yards where livestock may be rested between journeys or holding facilities in a particular region where livestock are delivered from farms for assembly before a journey.
The proposed national standards and guidelines aims to replace the existing Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals at Saleyards and eventually supersede the various state and territory codes of practice.
The RIS suggests that the proposed rules will reduce the risks to the welfare of livestock, and to a lesser extent reduce the uncertainty for the industry and lower the regulatory burden.
The Council of Australian Government (COAG) Consultation Regulation Impact Statement has been prepared by the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries and has been approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.
The closing date for submissions is 12 December 2014.
24 October 2014
On 26 September 2014, the Australian Building Codes Board released a COAG Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for consultation canvassing five proposed amendments to the National Construction Code provisions that aim to enhance emergency egress for people with disability.
The COAG RIS for consultation was prepared by the Australian Building Codes Board and has been approved by the OBPR.
The consultation period closes on 31 October 2014.
8 October 2014
On 22 September 2014, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) released a consultation paper examining options to ensure that regulation of plumbing and draining products, including their installation, make adequate provision for the health and safety of building occupants.
The ABCB previously undertook a review of the WaterMark Certification Scheme, which raised issues about the coverage of the scheme and the extent to which it is risk-focused, as well as the costs it imposes on some manufacturers.
The Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) examines a range of regulatory and
non-regulatory options for addressing these issues while still achieving the health and safety objectives of the scheme. These options include: an enhanced WaterMark scheme (focussed on health and safety objectives); a voluntary WaterMark scheme; and general certification under the Plumbing Code of Australia without WaterMark.
A COAG consultation RIS was prepared by the ABCB and has been approved by the OBPR.
Consultation will be open until 31 October 2014.
8 October 2014
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) remade two sunsetting legislative instruments without significant amendments on 25 August 2014: the Radiocommunications (Accreditation – Prescribed Certificates) Principles 2003 and the Radiocommunications (Frequency Assignment Certificates) Determination 2003. The instruments support the operation of the Accredited Persons Scheme, which permits accredited persons to perform certain activities related to the authorisation of radiocommunications services.
The proposal has been assessed by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) as likely to have a limited impact on the economy with no impacts on competition.
In line with the Australian Government best practice regulation requirements for sunsetting legislative instruments, the ACMA has assessed the operation of these instruments in consultation with affected stakeholders and has certified that these instruments are operating efficiently and effectively.
As the instruments were remade without amendments there are no compliance cost changes.
8 October 2014
On 19 September 2014, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Small Business jointly announced the release of a mandatory code of conduct designed to give bulk wheat exporters fair and transparent access to port terminal services, regardless of who owns the infrastructure.
The Code of Conduct replaces the ‘access test’ arrangements under the Wheat Export Marketing Act 2008, which were seen to impose an unnecessarily high burden on a small number of port operators. The new Code applies to all port terminal service providers, including some operators who were not subject to the previous arrangements.
However, where competition exists, the Code allows for businesses to be exempted from certain mandatory requirements, excluding basic publishing obligations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has powers to monitor and enforce compliance with the Code.
The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) explored three other options – the retention of the existing access test arrangements; a ‘one size fits all’ mandatory code that makes no provision for different levels of competition; and the removal of all industry-specific regulation, relying instead on general competition laws.
The proposal has been assessed as likely to have a measurable but contained impact on the economy with significant impacts on competition.
A RIS for consultation was prepared by the Department of Agriculture and was published on 19 June 2014.
The RIS was prepared and certified by the Department of Agriculture, at the Deputy Secretary level, and has beenassessed as compliant by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR).
The OBPR notes that the RIS process followed by the Department of Agriculture was consistent with best practice.
The Department has estimated average annual regulatory cost savings of $0.63 million. The OBPR has agreed to the regulatory cost savings.
1 October 2014
On 28 August 2014, the Minister for Education introduced the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 into the Australian Parliament. The Bill implements a range of higher education reform measures announced in the 2014-15 Budget.
The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) identifies the regulatory problem that the reforms are targeted to address, namely, that existing price controls for undergraduate and some postgraduate education at public universities distort the efficient functioning of the higher education market. In addition, current arrangements limit which institutions can deliver subsidised higher education, constraining competition within the market.
Under the preferred option, registered higher education institutions (including public and private universities, and non‑university higher education institutions) would be allowed to set their own tuition fees for Commonwealth supported students, and the Australian Government would reduce its contribution towards tuition fees by an average of 20 per cent for new students. Institutions with 500 or more Commonwealth supported students would be required to direct 20 per cent of additional revenue raised to Commonwealth Scholarships to support access, participation and success for disadvantaged students.
The RIS notes that the preferred option would give institutions the flexibility to structure their arrangements to suit their strategic goals and offer services at prices and in quantities that reflect their specific circumstances and the preferences of their students. The RIS notes that under this option prices for some courses would likely increase, while others may decrease.
The RIS estimates that the preferred option would yield a net average annual reduction of around $9.8 million in regulatory costs.
The RIS was certified by an Associate Secretary at the Department of Education and assessed as compliant with the Australian Government’s Guide to Regulation by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR). The OBPR did not consider that the RIS represented best practice, given the scale and significance of the higher education reforms and the likely impacts on the higher education market. In particular, the OBPR considered that the impact analysis was not sufficiently accessible to a range of stakeholders.
As the reforms have been assessed by the OBPR as having a substantial impact on the sector and the economy, the Australian Government’s RIS process requires a post‑implementation review to be completed for the higher education reforms within five years of being implemented.
1 October 2014
On 17 June 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it will regulate the price that a mobile phone network operator can charge other networks for connecting calls and text messages to its network. The declaration will be in place until 30 June 2019. The ACCC had previously regulated the price of connecting calls between networks, but not text messages.
The ACCC decision was informed by the Domestic Mobile Terminating Access Service Declaration Inquiry (Inquiry). The Inquiry considered which services operated by mobile phone networks should have their price regulated.
The assessment of the Inquiry was that there was no effective substitute for mobile phone calls and text messages. Additionally the Inquiry concluded that mobile networks have the ability and incentive to set unreasonable terms with other networks which could cause detriment to consumers in the long run.
The inquiry stated that the benefits of regulation will be that prices that networks charge each other will be cost based and that it will promote connectivity between networks. The decision does not change the price that mobile phone networks can charge consumers.
The Inquiry was certified by the ACCC as meeting the requirements of a Regulation Impact Statement. The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) does not assess independent reviews. In certifying the Inquiry the ACCC did not follow best practice as the self-assessment and agreement to regulatory costs occurred after the final decision.
The ACCC estimates the average annual regulatory cost is approximately $2000 and it has identified offsets to this cost through the removal of certain record keeping requirements. The OBPR has agreed to the estimated change in regulatory burden.