Time to Act

The Productivity Commission's (PC) draft report on Regulator Engagement with Small Business offers the opportunity for the new Rudd government to re-establish its credentials with the business sector, particularly the small business sector, says the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

"We hear a lot of good talk from governments about the importance of small business to the economy but we rarely see any concrete action," said IPA's chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

"The PC's report provides a blueprint for how government can take some important steps to assist small business with one of their biggest bugbears, government regulation. 

"We are not going to see, nor should we see, the end of regulation, but we can have better, targeted and more concise regulation.

"We are calling on the Rudd government to commit to the draft recommendations in the PC report, in particular to the following issues:

  • "where possible, remove any unnecessary complexity in regulatory requirements and associated guidance material..." (draft recommendation 3.1)
  • "Governments and regulators should provide different treatment for small business wherever this should maximise benefits to the community." (draft recommendation 3.2)
  • "The widespread application of standard business reporting..." (draft recommendation 5.2)
  • "When designing regulation, all governments should apply agreed regulatory impact analysis principles..." (draft recommendation 2.1) "The IPA is a strong believer in the need for small business regulatory impact statements on all new regulation that impacts small business. 

"These regulatory impact statements must be more than just a tick and flick.  They need to be given proper consideration and the Minister for Small Business should be held accountable for the outcome.

"When designing new regulation, regulators must have at their forefront how will small business be able to comply? They need to consider whether new requirements are necessary or whether existing procedures can be adapted.

"The IPA is also a strong supporter of the adoption of standard business reporting (SBR).

"SBR is a new tool that if implemented widely will reduce the cost of compliance to small business and ensure more consistent regulation.  It is a way that technology can cut costs and save time and should be applied across the board.

"If the Rudd government is committed to rebuilding the relationship with business, then the PC report is a good starting point.  Business, particularly small business, wants to know their concerns are being heard," said Mr Conway.