While governments have endeavoured to reduce bureaucratic red tape, many SMEs continue to be hobbled by poorly designed, poorly targeted or excessively enforced regulations, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

The Australian Small Business White Paper launched last week by the IPA in conjunction with the IPA Deakin University SME Research Partnership, puts forward some additional recommendations for the Government to consider in the fight against the regulatory burden faced by small business.

“We recognise that red tape in some form or another will always exist; some regulations will always be necessary but we are calling on all governments to stamp out unnecessary and excessive regulation in all its forms,” said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway (also co-author and chair of the research partnership).

“With our Australian Small Business White Paper we are recommending that a European Union-style ‘think small business first’ approach to the design and implementation of regulations be adopted by governments in Australia.

“Historically, design and implementation of regulation has had too much focus on ‘the big end of town’.

“Governments and regulators should improve regulator culture and this can be achieved by: • Promoting a ‘risk-based’ approach to the enforcement of regulations, focusing mainly on enterprises considered to present the greatest risk to society from non-compliance; • Enforcing regulations in a proportionate way; and • Placing more emphasis on education of small businesses on how to do the right thing, rather than enforcement and punishment of those who transgress.

 “We also believe that regulations should be made more effective by identifying the minimum required to meet regulatory objectives,” said Mr Conway.

More details of the Australian Small Business White Paper can be found at