An OECD report comparing regulatory practices across its member nations has given Australia high marks but says stakeholder engagement could further improve.
The report, coined the International Regulatory Policy Outlook, ranks Australia highly among the 38 member countries on stakeholder engagement in developing regulations, regulatory impact analysis, and evaluation of existing regulations.
But it highlights that Australia could improve stakeholder engagement prior to regulatory decisions for “subordinate regulation”, or regulations that don’t require an act of parliament.
Yet it also highlighted that Australia was the only OECD member to have systemic stakeholder engagement and consultation throughout the policy cycle.
The government at the start of 2020 shifted its regulatory policy branch from the Department of Jobs and Small Business to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, where the Office of Best Practice Regulation also is.
The government simplified how regulatory impact analysis was carried out in the public service. Department secretary Philip Gaetjens last year encouraged all public servants to have RIA requirements front of mind when commencing policy development.
“We know from experience that RIA works best when addressed as early as possible in the policy development process,” he said.
The OECD report makes an example of the national cabinet and the National Federation Reform Council structure as aligning with the OECD’s recommendation for greater “regulatory coherence” and coordination between levels of government.
Australia has been on a trajectory of deregulation since 2013, the report notes.
Minister assisting the prime minister and cabinet Ben Morton said the report showed Australia had a “world-leading” approach to regulation.
“Regulation that is fit-for-purpose and well-aligned means less burden on individuals and businesses, making it easier for Australians to go about daily life,” Morton said.
“This plays a vital role in the health of our economy, and in Australia’s recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19.”