THE federal government has agreed in full or in part to 158 of the 178 recommendations from the Banks Taskforce report Rethinking Regulation: Report of the Taskforce on Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Business. Treasurer Peter Costello said regulation was a major concern to all businesses, and especially small businesses In its final response, the government committed to address this issue, specifically by: •creating tougher rules for making new regulation, including cost benefit analysis; •screening of all regulation at least every five years; •working to harmonise state and territory conveyancing laws; •working towards a single regulator for mine safety; •developing an FBT reporting exclusion for pooled motor vehicles; •improving education and advice for OH&S; •reviewing of the thresholds for the definition of a large proprietary company; •simplifying accounting method to be developed for small restaurants, cafes and caterers; •commencing work on the national streamlining of business names through the ABN/ABR system; •aligning between definitions of small business, employer and associate; and •aligning training and licensing and mutual recognition of occupational licensing. Mr Costello said other measures announced in the federal govern-ment’s interim in April 2006 included: •an increase in the minor fringe benefits exemption threshold from $100 to $300, effective from April 1 2007; •an increase in the fringe benefits reporting exclusion threshold from $1,000 to $2,000, effective from April 1 2007; •a halving of the incorporation fee from $800 to $400, at an estimated cost of $216.4 million over the budget forward estimates period with effect from July 1 2006; and •allowing companies to make annual reports available on the internet and to send hard copies on request. “These improvements are in addition to the range of taxation and superannuation measures I announced in the recent Budget which will benefit business and reduce red tape,” Mr Costello said on his website. He said the government had announced a comprehensive plan to simplify and streamline the tax rules for superannuation including greater flexibility in how superannuation savings can be drawn down in retirement. “This will drastically reduce complexity of tax arrangements that currently apply to Australians’ superannuation benefits,” Mr Costello said. “Small business tax relief arrangements have also been significantly simplified. The Banks Taskforce report made recommendations across a wide range of sectors, including health and aged care, labour market regulation, consumer regulation, environmental and building regulation, financial, tax and superannuation regulation, and trade. It also made a number of important recommendations to address the underlying causes of over-regulation. Mr Costello said the government endorsed the six principles of good regulatory process set out in the report and was announcing measures to ensure they were adhered to. The principles are: •establishing a case for action; •examining alternatives to regulation; •adopting the option that generates the greatest net benefit to the community; •providing effective guidance to relevant regulators and affected stakeholders; •reviews to ensure the regulation remains relevant and effective; and •consulting with stakeholders at all stages of the regulatory cycle.
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