Australian Productivity Commission slams government interference in regulatory processes

Image credit: Flicker user kenhodge13

The Australian Productivity Commission said the Government should refrain from intervening in regulatory decision making processes, stating that regulators such as the Australian Fisheries Management Authority should be able to freely exercise their right to issue recommendations without interference from higher authority.

Image credit: Flicker user kenhodge13
Image credit: Flicker user kenhodge13

An article featured on ABC reveals the details regarding the latest PC report which makes reference to the recent case of Abel Tasman to illustrate the issue, when the Australian Fisheries Management Authority granted him approval to use his super-trawler for fishing in Australian waters, only for it to be revoked by the federal Labour Government, with a two year ban added on top of it.

The Australian Productivity Commissioner Warren Mindy voiced his concern regarding this case, as according to him AFMA issued the approval after carefully following the legal framework and after they have scientifically assessed the risk factor as acceptable.

“We weren’t concerned with the decision per se, what we were concerned with was the fact that this business had gone through all the normal, known regulatory processes, and was ready and able to proceed, but for an intervention through the parliament.”

“Our concern is that the regulator had done its work, undertaken appropriate risk assessment, and then that risk assessment was essentially put to one side,” he adds.

The report points out that such governmental interferences may undermine the faith in the legislation once singled out as best in the world and create confusion and a degree of uncertainty for all sides concerned.

The Commissioner emphasised that although such instances are rare, they need to be taken seriously as they undermine certainty, which is a paramount feat for every businessman. Playing around with established rules and regulations do not bode well with business.

“There are circumstances where what appears to be robust, regulatory frameworks are put in place, they’re proceeding, and then due to community pressure on politicians the parliament effectively moves the goal posts.”

The 400 hundred page report concludes with a recommendation proposing the government should acknowledge that not all risks can be completely eliminated, and that it should allow for independent functioning of regulators within their respective fields.