Red Tape At Record High

Written by:
7 November 2019
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Red tape is at a record high, according to forthcoming research by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, reported in today’s The Australian.

“Red tape is the single biggest impediment to economic prosperity and opportunity in Australia today”, said Daniel Wild, Director of Research at the Institute of Public Affairs.

The forthcoming report applies a new method of measuring regulation, called RegData, which uses artificial intelligence to counts the regulatory restrictiveness clauses in legislation and regulation – words and phrases such as “shall”, “may” and “must not”.

The research shows there has been an 80 per cent increase in regulatory restrictions in federal legislation and regulation since 2005. Total restrictions have grown from 197,658 in 2005 to 356,198 today, a record high.

“Most shocking is the rapid growth of regulation imposed by unelected regulators. The data shows that parliament is handing responsibility to unelected bureaucrats, who have taken a sledgehammer to small businesses. The regulators must be brought to heel,” said Mr Wild.

“The Commonwealth government must introduce a regulatory budget for each department and prohibit the introduction of any new regulation unless two existing regulations are repealed. Regulators and departments must be held accountable for the irreparable damage they are imposing on Australian workers, families, and businesses.”

Dr Patrick McLaughlin, Director of Policy Analytics at the US-based Mercatus Center, has been working with the IPA to develop RegData in Australia. He toured Australia in the week of 21 October and spoke about the regulatory burden and the development of RegData.

“The growth of regulation in any country can be a substantial drag on economic growth and job creation. Australia is no exception,” said Dr McLaughlin.

“The application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify regulatory restrictions is a powerful tool for policy-makers who want to cut red tape. It lets them establish a baseline of how much regulation is on the books today and then to easily track progress by measuring changes to the regulatory burden over time.”

“Evidence from the US and Canada shows that cutting regulatory restrictions boosts growth and job creation. We should expect to see similar results in Australia,” said Dr McLaughlin.

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