Red-tape removal ‘key to growth’

Article by Rosie Lewis.

Industry and Science Minister Karen Andrews has issued a call to arms to the states and territories to cut red tape and encourage project approvals or upgrades to help Australia recover from the coronavirus crisis.

In an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Ms Andrews will also reject any push to nationalise industries or create government-owned entities, saying that history has proven “the folly of that approach”.

She will say the government will prioritise securing the nation’s economic sovereignty by building an even stronger manufacturing sector, with simplifying red tape and regulation crucial.

But she warns that complete self-sufficiency should not be the end goal.

“Manufacturing Australia cite the fact that a factory can be proposed , approved, built and operational in America in less time than it takes to jump the very first approval hurdle in Australia. That’s simply not good enough,” she says in an advance copy of her speech.

“I see a big role for governments in streamlining those processes and facilitating new project approvals or upgrades. That’s one of the big lessons we take out of what we’ve achieved in our pandemic response. We’ve seen what is possible if we facilitate, rather than overregulate.”

The national cabinet, which Scott Morrison is considering making permanent beyond the pandemic, will be cited as a “great exemplar for what can be achieved” . The Prime Minister and premiers have used national cabinet to announce immediate and medium-term responses to the coronavirus outbreak.

“For too long governments have been duplicating, and at times competing with, each other when it comes to policy and service delivery for business and industry , wasting taxpayer dollars and causing confusion and frustration in the process,” Ms Andrews will say.

“We simply can’t return to politics as usual. We’ve proven what can be achieved.

“Just as we’ve dedicated ourselves to an effective pandemic response, we need to put no less importance on building national manufacturing capability to ensure our economic sovereignty.”

Ms Andrews will insist the federal government’s most recent, $215m, contribution to the manufacturing modernisation fund, worth less than a quarter of the total project costs it is supporting, is a strength and not a weakness.

“( Manufacturing) must be enterprise-driven ,” she will say.

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