Media release – SEZ in Northern Australia needed to eliminate “green tape”

The Institute of Public Affairs today renewed calls for a special economic zone in Northern Australia to be considered, including a “one-stop-shop” for processing regulatory approvals, as part of efforts to eliminate “green tape”.

John Shipp, Director of the North Australia Project at the IPA, said one way to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on all sectors of the economy in Northern Australia would be to put in place a special economic zone.

The IPA’s renewed call for an SEZ in Northern Australia came in response to calls from business groups and governments for streamlined environmental approvals and the removal of regulatory duplication.

“We welcome the new focus on reducing green-tape,” said Mr Shipp.

“However, the process of eliminating green-tape and overlapping jurisdictions is too important to be parked in COAG indefinitely.”

“The current system is a regulatory nightmare. A Queensland mine could be subject to at least 3,100 different permits, under around 50 pieces of legislation, regulation, and local government planning schemes. Many of the permits are duplicates between levels of government.”

“While federal and state governments consider ways to ease the regulatory burden, they should consider an SEZ across northern Australia to encourage growth and economic diversity.”

“A Special Economic Zone would include a one-stop-shop authorised by all levels of government to process applications efficiently and without unnecessary overlap.”

“Many emerging economies in our region have used SEZs to great success as part of their national growth strategies.”

“One-stop-shops are an essential part of any SEZ. They are specifically created to ensure anyone seeking regulatory approval for a project only has to go to one place. International experience says this is the best way to reduce regulatory duplication between the levels of government.”

“One-stop-shops aren’t about reducing environmental safeguards. They are there to eliminate pointless duplication between levels of government and remove the compliance load on enterprise so that it can be free to create jobs and wealth.”

“The Australian economy is entering a pivotal phase. We need to take advantage of our strategic position as a first-world economy in the Indo-Pacific region and unleash the economic potential of our North,” concluded Mr Shipp.