ACT government wants to 'make it easier' for businesses

Employers welcome state's 'better regulation' agenda

ACT government wants to 'make it easier' for businesses

On 8 June, the ACT government tabled “The Better Regulation Report” in the Legislative Assembly, which aims to map out its agenda to make it “easier to start, run, and grow” a business in the state.

The state aims to deliver on its plans through “best practice regulation and by simplifying interactions between business and government.” To that end, the government established The Better Regulation Taskforce (BRT) to support Canberra’s recovery from COVID-19 and to chart the course toward long-term economic growth.

Minister for Business and Better Regulation Tara Cheyne said that the report explains how ACT is improving business regulation by endorsing reforms that BRT directly received from employers across industries.

“The Taskforce will make it easier to do business in the ACT, working with the business community to identify and deliver solutions to address barriers they face and building on the ‘How can we help?’ approach the ACT Government has long been committed to. We will deliver targeted support for businesses to navigate regulatory requirements and to try new things, with a view to saying ‘yes’ wherever possible,” Cheyne said in a media release.

The report lays out the state’s agenda, comprising two key reform streams:

Stream 1: Policy and Legislation – making continual improvements to rules, regulations, and processes:

  • Reviewing the existing procurement framework from an SME perspective.
  • Readying  the ACT for the commencement of the automatic mutual recognition (AMR) scheme to improve mobility for occupational license holders.
  • Developing options to improve existing regulatory arrangements.
  • Working with industry and across government to review the policy, legislative, regulatory and process requirements that ‘frame’ the night-time and entertainment economy industries.

Stream 2: Business Experience and Regulator Practice – making government-to-business interactions better, faster, and simpler:

  • Better understanding business by surveying sentiment, mapping the user experience and piloting human centred design with business.
  • Providing clearer information for business to meet their needs.
  • Improving how regulators interact and respond to businesses; for example, enabling a more individual response to issues that arise, as well as putting all the information businesses need in one spot.
  • Reducing the number of times businesses need to interact with government and regulators, and reducing duplicated processes.

Employers’ reaction

In a media release, the Canberra Business Chamber said that employers and businesses welcomed the report and called on Chief Minister Andrew Barr “to ensure a whole of government commitment to making the regulatory reform agenda a reality.”

“It is clear and very pleasing that the government has listened to local businesses, and we commend the Minister and the Better Regulation Taskforce on this report,” Chamber CEO Graham Catt said.

“The Report recognises the feedback and frustration that we hear consistently from our members, including a need to focus on how regulation is implemented and a lack of business experience and understanding amongst regulators and the ACT public service generally,” Catt said.

“Unfortunately, feedback from small local businesses is that when dealing with government many interactions seem to be based on mistrust and a misunderstanding of business realities rather than a desire to support the entrepreneurs who drive our city’s economic growth and create jobs,” Catt explained.

“For small business, one of the most significant statements in the report is the commitment to move from a ‘why should we help?’ mentality, to a ‘how we can help?’ culture,” Catt added.

“If the ACT Government can effectively implement the reform agenda outlined in the report, it will make a real difference to the Canberra business community. For that to happen, there needs to be a whole of government commitment to making it easier to start up, grow and run and a business from every minister, every portfolio, and every directorate, led from the top by the Chief Minister,” Catt said.

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