Scott Morrison has claimed that businesses will save an estimated $430m annually from deregulation measures, including cutting greenhouse gas, pharmaceutical, occupational licensing, childcare and international education reporting requirements.
In a speech to the Business Council of Australia on Monday, Morrison announced $120m would be spent on deregulation in the budget. The prime minister also flagged further expansion of the digital economy and revamping skills education as key planks of the “second phase” of Australia’s economic recovery.
Morrison trumpeted the Australian economy’s achievements, such as recovering 947,000 jobs since the Covid-19 pandemic recession, arguing it “wasn’t luck” but “world-leading” policies such as the jobkeeper wage subsidy that had built a V-shaped recovery.
Morrison said the Coalition would aim to alleviate the “depressing level of regulation that prevents [businesses] employing more Australians”, insisting that the government had a detailed plan not “lofty communiques” promising reduced red tape.
A precis of the measures, released after the speech, suggests that 900 companies can slash the amount of time spent on national greenhouse and energy reporting requirements to government through the use of regtech – information technology used to enhance regulatory processes – and bulk uploading of data.
The deregulation taskforce in the prime minister’s department estimated the measure would help the largest 20 companies cut time spent on reporting from 300 to 85 hours annually.
Morrison claimed the plan would help about 1,220 commercial fishing operators access information to more efficiently plan fishing, avoiding bycatch and protected species.
A further 610 fishing businesses will meet regulatory compliance requirements through electronic monitoring programs, the precis claimed.
Entities regulated by Treasury legislation – including credit, superannuation and insurance providers – would benefit from “technology neutrality” in the ways they communicate with regulators, individuals and each other.
Under the plan, 1,180 private education providers catering to international students will no longer need to report monthly details of tuition fees received from each student, merely to keep their own records.
The government claims it will eliminate duplication of reporting on service quality and fees in the childcare sector.
Applications to the medical services advisory committee and the prostheses list advisory committee will be consolidated into a single digital channel.
Morrison claimed the government would help businesses use regtech to comply with modern awards, allowing payroll software companies access to authoritative data to determine whether workers were being paid correctly.
Morrison also promised “automatic mutual recognition” for 124,000 workers who require multiple occupational licences. He claimed this would mean 44,000 workers were more likely to work interstate.
“You need a licence to be an electrician in Queanbeyan, and you need another licence to be an electrician a kilometre down the road, in the ACT – go figure,” he said. “That will no longer be required.”
Morrison reannounced plans to revamp skills education, which he first proposed in May 2020 in a speech vowing to add conditions to $1.5bn of federal funding to the states.
Morrison told the BCA audience getting the right workforce was the “single biggest challenge” faced by Australian businesses.
He said the Coalition was prepared to invest more in skills education – but only after it “fixes” the system to ensure it is more responsive to the needs of employers.
Morrison said Senator Jane Hume would unveil a strategy for Australia to become a “leading digital economy and society” by 2030 before the budget.
“Covid-19, we know, accelerated the take-up of digital technology and highlighted the role it can play to support enhanced business operations and the delivery of government services,” he said.