Businesses involved in the agriculture and resource industries may be subject to a more simplified legal regime in the near future with the Queensland Government recently launching an inquiry into the regulatory burdens in those industries.

The Government’s newly formed Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee (Committee) is conducting the inquiry which aims to:

  1. reduce the regulatory requirements impacting on the agriculture and resource industries in Queensland; and
  2. promote economic development while balancing environmental protections.

Currently, Queensland’s agriculture and resource industries are subject to many formal and quasi regulations including Acts of Parliament, by-laws, permit requirements, international treaties, industry codes and guidance notes and standards.

Businesses who fail to comply with the regulatory requirements are subject to penalties and sanctions.

The Productivity Commission noted that regulation is necessary and justified when it achieves agreed goals that deliver the greatest net benefit to the community and to do so it must be well designed and effectively and efficiently implemented and enforced.

However, according to the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department 2006 Report “Rethinking Regulation – Report on the Taskforce on Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Business” regulation may not be justified in the burden it places on businesses if it:

  • imposes excessive coverage, or its impact has become more extensive over time;
  • is redundant or has unintended or perverse outcomes;
  • imposes excessive reporting or recording requirements;
  • contains variations in definitions and reporting requirements; or
  • is inconsistently applied and overlaps with other regulatory requirements.

The inquiry is focusing on investigating methods it could use to review existing regulation and develop future regulation which will result in a regulatory regime which is effective and efficient. The proposed methods include:

  • setting regulatory reduction targets;
  • regulation harmonisation;
  • creating a tier system of regulatory requirements depending on the size of a business;
  • expanding the use of electronic lodgement services; and
  • creating a one stop shop for businesses to access regulatory information.

The Committee invited comments on its proposed methods and a public hearing will be held in Brisbane on 19 September 2012 to clarify issues raised in the submissions and other advice for the inquiry.

The Committee will report to the Legislative Assembly on its findings by 30 November 2012. We will update you on the Committee’s report at that time.