17/11/2015 - 11:27

State govt makes red tape cuts

17/11/2015 - 11:27

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The state government has introduced a number of red tape cuts expected to save Western Australians about $150 million over the next five years.

Lands Minister Terry Redman. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state government has introduced a number of red tape cuts expected to save Western Australians about $150 million over the next five years.

Launching the state government’s inaugural Repeal Week 2015, Premier Colin Barnett said red tape reforms would reduce barriers for business, drive economic growth, and improve living standards.

One of the changes highlighted by the premier was the introduction of retail trading amendments to allow general shops to open from 7am on Monday to Saturday and close an hour later on Sundays.

Another item on the chopping block was the requirement for the resources sector to submit geological evaluations for approval of iron ore exploration, which is expected to save the industry up to $2 million a year.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion said the cost to the resources industry of having to provide the evaluations and reasons for iron ore authorisation over the past five years was up to $10 million.

"This requirement to compile evaluation documents that can run to 36 pages dates back to the 1960s when the iron ore industry was being built in WA," he said.

"Iron ore was identified as a strategic resource and there were all sorts of special rules in those days of historic state agreements and massive infrastructure needs, but times have changed.

"The money spent on obtaining these authorisations could be better spent on mineral exploration, which is crucial to the future of the state's resources sector.”

About $80 million is expected to be saved over seven years in WA’s property sector with online property settlements resulting in an improved conveyancing process and at reduced timeframes.

Lands Minister Terry Redman said with the expansion of the state's electronic conveyancing system now completed, settlement agents, legal practitioners and financial institutions can arrange settlements, pay transfer duty, financial settlements, and prepare and lodge land documents via Property Exchange Australia Ltd.

Mr Redman said in many cases, those selling property had cleared funds in their accounts within an hour of settlement.

"The expansion has benefited sellers and buyers as there is improved certainty with settlement dates and reductions in government red tape in the land transaction process," he said.

Liquor reforms were also highlighted in the state government’s 2015 Red Tape Reduction Report Card today, with amendments to the liquor act set to allow beer and wine producers to establish a second cellar door operation or collective cellar door with other producers within the same region off-site.

Racing and Gaming Minister Colin Holt said it allowed producers to sell their products from a retail outlet that was situated away from their licensed premises.

"It will ultimately provide beer and wine producers greater flexibility while also driving tourism outcomes and meeting consumer demand,” he said.

The Liquor Legislation Amendment Act 2015 also facilitates the director of liquor licensing to accept applications without planning approval being provided at the time the application is lodged.

Mr Holt said another change allowed hotels to trade until midnight on Sundays (an extension of two hours) while nightclubs will be permitted to trade through to 2am of the following Monday morning.

"The changes recognise modern community expectations and the seven-day week economy," he said.

The Act also abolishes an anomaly that barred people from moving freely in licensed premises where they had to cross an unlicensed area, such as a footpath, to an alfresco area. 

The minister said other changes included a provision for all producers to sell alcohol other than their own, ancillary to a meal or for comparative tasting, and allowing beer producers to sell their product for consumption (not just tasting) on a licensed premises between 10am and 10pm.

Small business operators are also set to gain from red tape cuts, with the introduction of exemptions to water licences to support higher uptake of decentralised water recycling across the state.

Water Minister Mia Davies said the exemptions were targeted at owners or managers of single premises who provide small-scale, non-drinking water services such as those managing small caravan parks or apartment blocks. 

"This exemption is supporting the use of recycled wastewater and grey water for lawns and gardens by freeing small-scale operators from cumbersome and costly licensing," she said.

"Alternative solutions to water management are important in areas where water supplies are limited, or where connection to sewerage networks is very costly.

"It empowers landholders and their managing agents to provide innovative water solutions at lot scale, and supports the state's water objectives for increasing use of recycled and grey water to manage the impact of competition and the drying climate."

Ms Davies said the exemptions also supported owner-operators outside areas of existing sewage and water services supply.

Meanwhile, A total of 10 pieces of obsolete legislation will also be repealed, including a 1979 Act that prevented paid entertainment on Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day, and an 1830 Act that removed the property rights of married women.

Mr Marmion said the red tape cut strategy was about efficiency, productivity and prosperity gains, as well as improving people’s daily lives.

"It aims to help empower WA businesses and communities for the challenges of a disruptive, innovative and even more diverse future,” he said.

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