He cited as an example one large employer's environmental assessment process that took more than two years, involved more than 4,000 meetings and resulting in a 12,000 page report When approved, the project faced more than 1,500 Commonwealth and State conditions with a further 8,000 sub-conditions attached to them. The process cost the company more than $25 million.
Another quite absurd example, the innovative Australian company Cochlear, the manufacturer and exporter of hearing implant devices had to wait two years to have its device pass safety checks despite having already achieved clearance by European regulators. Cochlear, formed with Commonwealth Government finance in 1981 to commercialise their product holds two-thirds of the world's hearing implant market and more than 250,000 people around the world are fitted with them.
Then there are the plainly stupid regulations – in WA, a hardware store can sell outdoor lights before 11am but no indoor lights, while petrol stations can sell cigarettes before 8am on Mondays but not nicotine patches. Pantyhose can be sold after 9pm on Thursdays but not underpants and a country pub can sell takeaway liquor on Sundays but a liquor store across the road cannot.
Mr Gilbert wrote, "A new spotlight needs to be shone on regulators themselves. The Office of Best Practice Regulation – the regulator for good regulation, which sits in the Prime Minister's Department – needs the power to hold proponents of additional regulation to account. Taxpayers deserve to know that they are getting value for money."
That just might not happen.
Minister James Hacker from Yes Minister once observed, "The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's more expensive to do things cheaply and it's more democratic to do them in secret."
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