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.


4 July 2014

Changes to Required Advisory Statements for Medicine Labels – Regulation Impact Statement – Therapeutic Goods Administration

On 23 May 2014 the National Manager of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (as delegate to the Minister for Health) made the Therapeutic Goods Order 69D, changing the requirements for the advisory statements that must be made on non-prescription medicine labels.

The labels of non-prescription medicines should provide self-medicating consumers with sufficient information to choose the medicines appropriately and to use the medicines safely and effectively. In order to ensure that important safety information is included on non-prescription medicine labels, the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 mandates the inclusion of advisory statements on some labels. These statements are currently compiled in the “Required Advisory Statements for Medicine Labels” (‘the RASML’).

From time to time it is necessary to review the mandatory advisory statements and to update the RASML to include new/revised statements where appropriate. This is because new medicines requiring new advisory statements may become available to consumers, or because new risks may be identified with existing medicines.

The changes to the RASML will require approximately 70 businesses to change the labels of around 500 different medicines. This will result in a one-off additional cost to these firms of around $2 million to $5 million. There will be an 18 month implementation period for the changes to allow firms to bring their products in line with the updated RASML. As a result of the changes, consumers will be better informed of the appropriate use of the affected medicines.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared and certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration under the June 2010 RIS requirements. It was assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.


4 July 2014

Improving the model Work Health and Safety laws – COAG Consultation Regulation Impact Statement – Council of Australian Governments

On 30 June 2014, ministers responsible for work health and safety from all Australian governments agreed to release an Issues Paper and Consultation regulation impact statement (RIS) examining improvements to the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.

In 2008, COAG signed an agreement to implement model WHS laws across the country. The model WHS Act, model WHS Regulations and model Codes of Practice were agreed – together these make up the model WHS laws. Seven jurisdictions (the Commonwealth, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania), have since adopted the model WHS laws.

The current review process is investigating ways in which model WHS laws could be improved to reduce red tape and make it easier for businesses and workers to comply with their work health and safety responsibilities, as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments.

A COAG consultation RIS – incorporating an issues paper – was prepared by the agency supporting Safe Work Australia, and has been approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.

The consultation period closes on 1 August 2014.


2 July 2014

Emissions Reduction Fund, Safeguard Mechanism – RIS – Department of the Environment

On 24 April 2014, the Government released the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) White Paper.

The Department of the Environment has certified the White Paper as a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for initial decisions on the ERF including the ERF crediting and purchasing arrangements and changes to the Carbon Farming Initiative, and coverage of the ERF safeguard mechanism in accordance with the Australian Government Guide to Regulation.

The Government will provide $2.55 billion to reduce emissions at lowest cost over the period to 2020 and make a contribution towards Australia’s 2020 emissions target.

The Department estimated the change in regulatory burden associated with the ERF crediting and purchasing arrangements and changes to the Carbon Farming Initiative at $4.68 million per annum. This increase was offset by savings from the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 and related legislation. Initial decisions on coverage of the safeguard mechanism announced in the White Paper will not change the regulatory burden on business.

The Government will consult with business to establish a flexible framework for complying with the safeguard in the unlikely event of baselines being exceeded. The RIS will be finalised after consultation has concluded.


26 June 2014

Removal of Australian Industry Participation Officers

Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Industry

The Minister for Industry has revised the Enhanced Project By-law Scheme (EPBS) Guidelines to remove the requirement for large construction projects to employ an Australian Industry Opportunity Officer.

Under the requirement, construction projects over $2 billion that were receiving tariff concessions under the EPBS were required to employ an officer whose role was to promote procurement from Australian suppliers.

To inform the initial decision on whether or not to maintain the requirement, the Department of Industry certified an options stage RIS, titled: Australian Industry Participation Officers, under the July 2013 RIS requirements. The RIS recommended the removal of the requirement and estimated that doing so would reduce regulatory burden by $3.9 million a year.

To inform the final decision point on whether or not to maintain the requirement, the Department of Industry certified an earlier RIS, titled: Strengthening Australian Industry Participation that was developed in 2012 to examine ways to increase Australian suppliers’ involvement in large construction projects. The RIS Strengthening Australian Industry Participation recommended introducing the requirement that large construction projects employ an Australian Industry Participation Officer as well as undertake an Australian Industry Participation plan.

In assessing the adequacy of the RIS Strengthening Australian Industry Participation under the Australian Government Guide to Regulation the OBPR relied heavily on the Department of Industry’s certification.


24 June 2014

Regulations for Onion Levy Increase – Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Agriculture

On 13 May 2014, as part of revenue measures announced in the Australian Government’s 2014-15 Budget, the Government announced changes to levies and export charges for the onion industry, commencing on 1 July 2014.

The onion industry’s perception is that greater funding is required in order to avoid underinvestment in industry-wide research and development (R&D) and for marketing as well as capturing collective benefits for the onion industry. In addition, the industry considered the National Residue Survey (NRS) onion residue monitoring program no longer provides benefits to all onion growers, particularly those supplying the export markets and should be discontinued.

There were also concerns with existing arrangements regarding biosecurity risk mitigation and funding the costs of the industry’s Plant Health Australia (PHA) membership.

The preferred option is to increase the levy/export charge rate for R&D from $1.60 per tonne to $2.90 per tonne of hard onions, introduce a levy/export charge for marketing at a rate of $1.00 per tonne, decrease the levy/export charge rate for the National Residue Survey from $0.40 per tonne to zero, introduce an Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy/export charge set at zero, and introduce a PHA membership levy/export charge set at $0.10 per tonne.

The changes in onion levies and export charges for marketing and R&D will enable the industry to meet its strategic objectives and deliver improved outcomes for the Australian onion industry and consumers. The decrease in the NRS levies will enable onion growers to more efficiently meet their requirements for testing services and quality assurance certification. The proposed PHA levy and export charge would pay the costs of the industry’s PHA membership obligations. The EPPR levy and export charge will enable a mechanism to be in place for the industry to fund its obligations, should an emergency plant pest incident occur. The OBPR has agreed that there are no changes to regulatory costs.

A single-stage Regulation Impact Statement was prepared and certified by the Department of Agriculture and has been assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation under the July 2013 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements in conjunction with the interim RIS process guidance note.


19 June 2014

Proposed reform to strengthen Customer Due Diligence – Regulation Impact Statement – AUSTRAC

On 20 May 2014, the CEO of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) announced changes to customer due diligence rules, which form part of Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime.  The regime is intended to protect Australia’s revenue base through enhanced collection and verification of customer information, as well as preventing organised criminals from misusing complex business structures to conceal ownership and controlling interests in entities.

In broad terms, this regime requires that some financial institutions (reporting entities) need to identify and verify each of their customers so they can assess the money laundering or terrorism financing risk posed by each customer, and if necessary take appropriate action.

Under this proposal, key changes to the customer due diligence regime include:

  • expanded requirements for financial institutions to verify beneficial ownership and control in certain circumstances;
  • requirements for reporting entities to consider the risk associated with its customers in the context of the purpose and nature of the business relationship; and
  • expanded record-keeping requirements.

The reforms are expected to: improve tax compliance and money laundering enforcement; stronger fraud prevention arrangements an institutional level; enhanced ability for some small businesses to meet obligations to overseas tax compliance regulators; and minimise commercial risk around assessing beneficial ownership and control.  The reforms are also expected to address any risks associated with Australia being removed from the European Union’s equivalence list.

The proposal has been assessed as having a significant impact on certain sectors of the economy.  These impacts include estimated annual average ongoing compliance costs of around $40 million.

A details-stage Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared and certified by AUSTRAC and has been assessed as adequate by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.  The OBPR notes that as no decision has been previously announced, an options-stage RIS was not required and a single stage RIS has been prepared.

Note:  If you have difficulty accessing the information in any of these documents, please contact Andrew Rodrigues.

19 June 2014

Regulation for Mushroom Levy Increase – Regulation Impact Statement – Department of Agriculture

On 13 May 2014, as part of revenue measures announced in the Australian Government’s 2014-15 Budget, the Government announced changes to levies for the mushroom industry to commence on 1 July 2014.

The mushroom industry’s perception is that greater funding is required in order to avoid underinvestment in industry-wide research and development (R&D) and for marketing. In addition, the industry has noted that the capacity of the current rate of the marketing and R&D levy to fund priority industry projects has been significantly eroded over the last decade.

The preferred option is to increase the levy rate for R&D from $0.54 per kilogram of mushroom spawn to $1.08 per kilogram, and the levy rate for marketing from $1.62 per kilogram of mushroom spawn to $3.24 per kilogram. This will assist the industry to meet its strategic objectives, including delivering improved outcomes for the Australian mushroom industry and consumers. The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) has agreed that there are no changes to regulatory costs.

A single-stage Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared and certified by the Department of Agriculture, and has been assessed as adequate by the OBPR under the July 2013 Australian Government best practice regulation requirements in conjunction with the interim RIS process guidance note.