LETTER: Bat problem impossible fix until we get rid of tape

THE Ipswich bat crisis signals the pressing need to cut red tape across Australia.

Ipswich is in the middle of a bat crisis - an epidemic if if you will. While the bat boondoggle rolls on there is one potential upshot; Australia's red tape problem is bubbling to the surface.

Eradicating the bats has become almost impossible because of state and federal controls.

The people of Ipswich have become so tightly wrapped in red tape they're shackled from solving even the simplest of problems.

I'm not suggesting there is a clear solution to the bat problem right now. But that's precisely the point.

Because of strict controls on when and where bats can be moved, residents, and indeed the Mayor, have become desperate to find solutions by dodging the rules.

How are the people meant to find a solution when they're trapped in a byzantine red tape state?

The restrictions on bat management are a trivial but powerful example of the over-regulation problem more broadly.

Australia's red tape challenge extends far beyond a few pesky bats.

Recent research by the Institute of Public Affairs estimated the economic cost of red tape in Australia at $176 billion every year.

Put in perspective $176 billion is a gigantic number. It's more than we pay in income tax and it is also bigger than any other industry.

And Queensland may be one of the worst performing jurisdictions. Research by the Queensland Resources Council found that 44% of CEOs said regulatory costs were heavier than other states.

Australia has a red tape problem, and it only seems to be getting worse.

Last year the Commonwealth government passed over 6,453 pages of legislation. That adds to over 100,000 pages already sitting on the books. And that's just at the federal level.

To be clear, not all laws are red tape. Some regulation is necessary to maintain our high standards of living and keep our country secure and open for business.

But it is certainly true that some of the approximately 30,000 licenses, permits and approvals across Australia could be scrapped.

And it's certainty true we don't need over 5,000 pages of new legislation year upon year to keep our country running.

While each of these pages look small in isolation it is the way they add up into a cumulative burden that really hurts Australians.

It's the way red tape shackles our enterprise.

At all levels of government, Australia needs to cut red tape and unleash our innovative side.

 

Darcy Allen

 

Institute of Public Affairs


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