Cut red tape: business leaders

THE nation's business leaders will tell Prime Minister Julia Gillard that red tape needs to be cut and environmental processes streamlined at a forum leading up to Friday's April 13 meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.

Ms Gillard and her state and territory counterparts will hear at Thursday's forum from business and industry heavyweights about what can be done to improve business conditions across the country.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has released a paper in the lead-up to the forum, the first of its kind, highlighting the need for better regulatory performance from government to lower costs for small and medium businesses.

"Businesses, large and small, are absolutely on the same page when it comes to making the federation work better, including priorities for cutting red tape and reducing the cost of doing business in an increasingly competitive world," BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

"The paper presents a unified position from businesses operating on the ground of the Australian economy on how governments can more effectively pursue reforms that have the greatest impact on creating jobs, encouraging investment and economic growth."

The paper suggested streamlining the two-tier environmental approvals process for major projects and removing "unnecessary carbon reduction and energy efficiency initiatives".

In January the COAG Reform Council released its third report on the Seamless National Economy reforms.
In it, the council revealed that while action was already being taken to reduce red tape, 12 crucial changes needed to be fast-tracked as the process was due to be completed by the end of 2012.

The BCA paper also asks COAG to call for a Productivity Commission inquiry to check major development assessments, such as mining and gas projects, to be checked against international best practice for approval timelines and administrative costs.

The agenda for Friday's COAG meeting will be finalised by Ms Gillard with input from the state and territory leaders, but is likely to include the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the seamless economy reforms, environmental regulation reforms and GST distribution.

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