Daniel Wild Discussing IPA Red Tape Army Research Breakfast 2CC – 2 July 2024

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2 July 2024
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The Institute of Public Affairs’ Daniel Wild appeared on Breakfast 2CC to discuss the IPA’s research on government red tape.

All media appearances posted onto the IPA website are directly related to the promotion and dissemination of IPA research.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


Stephen Cenatiempo:

We’ve talked about the dramatic increase in the number of public servants here in Canberra quite a bit on this programme, but red tape bureaucrats have hit the highest number ever. By the end of the 2025 financial year, the total number of staff employed by the federal government in regulatory roles will be more than 106,000. This is according to an analysis by the Institute of Public Affairs. Their Deputy Executive Director, Daniel Wild, joins us. Daniel, good morning.

Daniel Wild:

Good day. Nice to be with you.

Stephen Cenatiempo:

What separates a red tape bureaucrat from any other bureaucrat? I would’ve thought the whole bureaucracy was about red tape.

Daniel Wild:

Well, you’re not far from it, but look, basically these are staff employed by the federal bureaucracy that are responsible for creating or enforcing regulation and red tape, which is imposed upon the economy and businesses industry, whether small, medium, or large business, and as you say, it’s had a dramatic growth, 106,000 now employed. That’s enough to fill the entire MCG, or the equivalent to one quarter of the population of the ACT. And the total wage bill for these 106,000 red tape bureaucrats is now almost $15 billion each and every year. Look, of course we need to have an element of regulation to have a well-functioning economy, but you ask any business owner out there at the moment and they will tell you the cost of business is only going one way, and one of the reasons for that is the red tape they have to deal with.

Stephen Cenatiempo:

What departments are the worst offenders here?

Daniel Wild:

Well, the worst offender by a very long way is the Department of Climate Change and the environment over the last two years, so basically since this federal government came in. There’s been a 76% increase to the number of staff employed in that particular department. This has really increased cost, particularly for businesses in the resources sector.

Quite often when we talk about the resources sector, people think, “Oh, well, that’s just Queensland and Western Australia.” But don’t forget the wealth that’s generated, the revenue that’s generated, the export revenue generated from those sectors is critical to funding schools, roads, hospitals, and a lot of the other critical social infrastructure that benefits the community more generally. And unfortunately, it’s only set to get worse. As you’re probably aware of, the federal government is proposing the establishment of a Federal Environment Protection Agency, which would add even more regulation and red tape, and what’s worse, would duplicate a lot of the functions that are already in place at a state level.

Stephen Cenatiempo:

I imagine this flies in the face of promises to build however many million houses the government says they’re going to build over the next five years. The more red tape you put in the way of that, the less likely it’s going to happen.

Daniel Wild:

Well, you make a really important point, because it is the housing that it affects dramatically. We’ve seen the price of and the cost of building a house rise over the last couple of years, the fastest it’s ever risen since World War II, and that’s one of the reasons why housing stats are back down towards 1980 levels. Despite the fact that we’ve had this dramatic surge to our population, over the last two years we’ve had over a million net overseas migration intake.

Now, of course migration is important for our economy and society, but it simply hasn’t been planned for. We know the cost of housing and the cost of rent is going up, and as you rightly identify, one of the key reasons is just the amount of red tape and regulation, whether at a local level, a territory level, or a federal level, that has to be navigated by those who are actually trying to build and construct houses. This red tape cost flows right through to the economy and people are feeling it.

Stephen Cenatiempo:

Daniel, we said that the number, the quantum is going to be 106,000 red tape bureaucrats by the 2025 financial year. What sort of increase does that represent numbers wise?

Daniel Wild:

Look, that’s an increase of 17% over the last two years, so it’s surged dramatically compared to overall population growth of around 5%. So it’s growing at over three times the rate at our national population growth. One of the issues I just want to draw your attention to is the broader economic challenges that this is causing for us. We know that productivity growth is going backwards, so it’s not even just stalling or growing slowly. It’s actually going backwards now. What that means is, as a nation, we are less able to generate wealth and prosperity for all Australians.

The other point is what’s really interesting is we looked at some of the economic competitiveness numbers, and over the last 10 years they’ve fallen off a cliff. We used to be the most resilient economy in the world. Now we’re the 20th most resilient economy. But the one thing that we are very good at is exporting valuable products overseas. So our terms of trade has been number one in the world for five years in a row, and that’s basically your exports minus your imports. But again, this regulatory impost is threatening one of our key competitive economic advantages.

Stephen Cenatiempo:

Absolutely extraordinary. Daniel, I appreciate your time this morning.

Daniel Wild:

My pleasure. Thank you.

Stephen Cenatiempo:

All the best. Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs.

This transcript with Daniel Wild talking on Breakfast 2CC from 2 July 2024 has been edited for clarity.

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