Red tape reduction

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In September 2015 the former Government released a Regulatory Reform Policy Statement with a focus on red tape reduction. Considerable work has been undertaken across the department to address any duplicate or confusing regulations, simplify forms and paperwork, and remove any unnecessary compliance burden for both individuals and businesses.

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Commerce has identified a number of areas to reduce red tape. These are outlined below, with a summary of progress over the past year. These initiatives have contributed significantly to reducing costs and increasing convenience for consumers, small business and government.

Red tape reduction initiatives since August 2014
Date Red tape reduction initiative Benefits
August 2014 The Department began doing in house credit history checks for applicants of motor vehicle dealer and repairer licences and renewals. Licensing costs increased by $4 over three years but provided an enormous benefit to applicants, many of whom are small business owners, in time saved and cost.  Savings for applicants ranged between $26 - $150 depending on the source of the credit history report. 
October 2014 Deregulation of travel agents Deregulation has resulted in savings estimated at between $1,315 - $2,015 per year for around 345 travel agent businesses operating in Western Australia. This represents total savings to WA business of between $454,000 and $695,000 per year. 
November 2014 Dispensed with requirements for employment agents, land valuers, settlement agents and real estate and business agents to advertise a licence application in the newspaper.  This will save applicants $200 - $300 each time they need to apply for or renew a licence. 
January 2015 Restricted plumbing permits were introduced, to allow qualified electricians and certain gas fitters to carry out like for like water supply plumbing for hot water system changeovers.  This allows qualified tradespeople to undertake this work without having to obtain a full plumbing contractor’s licence.  Consumers have more choice in selecting a tradesperson. 
April 2015 The Associations Incorporation Regulations 1988 were amended to facilitate transfer of incorporation of Aboriginal associations to the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). While this will not affect a large number of associations it has made the process of transferring incorporation much simpler for Aboriginal community organisations, saving time and effort when they wish or are required to operate under the CATSI Act. 
May 2015 Free online access to the National Construction Code. The savings are estimated to be between $17 - $55 million nationally through increased compliance, reduced disputation and safer buildings.
May 2015 Requirements for drainage plumbing inspections more flexible.  New technology allows inspection to be made after installation. Prior to this, plumbers could not complete work until an inspection occurred. Plumbers can now complete work sooner with an estimated saving for plumbing businesses of $1 million per annum.
August 2015 and November 2015

The Residential Tenancies Regulations have been amended to allow partial remit of bonds when rent decreases or a pet is no longer kept; allow fixed term agreements with same tenants in same property to be renewed by letter and provide agreement to electronic notification of tenants where they consent to this.

The main benefits will be for property managers in not having to print and post lengthy documents, such as residential tenancy contracts and property condition reports, to tenants.  REIWA estimates that this could save agencies between $200 - $400 a year.  For tenants it will mean an earlier refund of bond money and the convenience of electronic documents, if this is what they want.

  The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2015, introduced to Parliament in Repeal Week, includes amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 to allow property managers to negotiate inspection times after issuing a notice in an approved form and to provide an increased range of options for landlords and the court to contact a former tenant about abandoned goods or for the service of documents. When they commence, the amendments to the Act will further increase efficiencies for property managers by reducing the travel time and costs associated with property inspections.  Landlords and the Magistrates Court will also make significant savings by not having to rely on advertisements in the newspaper to contact former tenants and these tenants will benefit, as allowing the use of web sites and other means of contact will increase the likelihood of them receiving important information.
August 2015 BondsOnline for residential tenancy bonds to be lodged, varied and disbursed electronically without the need for any paper forms was made available to all real estate agents.  The system is fast, easy and secure.  It will allow the transition from manual, paper-based processes to a streamlined electronic system.  The system is presently available for use by real estate agents and in future may be further developed to make it available for private landlords.

Real estate agents save time and money in not having to complete four page forms for each lodgement and disposal (see * below), and in not having to chase tenants for signatures.  They also spend less time responding to tenant queries about bond disposals.  Bond disposal times are typically 24-48 hours from the time all parties agree to the amounts to be disbursed.  The eTransactions functionality also assists real estate agents to meet their legislative commitments for lodgement timeliness and auditing.

Tenants benefit by getting their bonds back much faster.  Bond disposal times are typically 24-48 hours from the time all parties agree to the amounts to be disbursed (compared to typically 7-14 days for the form-based system).

The Department of Commerce saves money through reduction in manual processing and in having to respond to fewer calls from agents and tenants making enquiries about bonds.  It is estimated there will be internal savings of approx. $900,000 in the 15/16 financial year and $1.1million in 16/17.

* There is a target to convert 40 per cent of transactions from manual to electronic.  When this is achieved it will equate to over 350,000 sheets of paper not being printed each year.

November 2015

Several Bills introduced to Parliament in Repeal Week include amendments for Commerce that will:

Promote online licensing for many occupations administered by Commerce – real estate and business agents, settlement agents, land valuers, auctioneers, debt collectors, motor vehicle dealers and motor vehicle repairers.

See below for benefits.

  Allow early payment of commissions for off the plan sales to real estate agents. This will improve cash flow for real estate agents, while ensuring that consumer funds continue to be held in trust until sales are concluded.
  Amend the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 to allow property managers to negotiate inspection times after issuing a notice in an approved form and to provide an increased range of options for landlords and the court to contact a former tenant about abandoned goods or for the service of documents. See above for benefits.
  Introduce triennial licensing for auctioneers and debt collectors. This will reduce licence costs for auctioneers and debt collectors.  The amount cannot be determined until the conclusion of an evaluation of licensing fees that is currently occurring.
  Amend the Disposal of Unclaimed Goods Act 1970 to allow monetary values to be set by regulation.  This Act requires retailers to go through processes determined by the value of unclaimed goods before they can be disposed of.  The value of $300 in the Act was set in 1970 and would equate to $3500 now.  This value will be introduced by regulation. This will assist businesses, such as motor vehicle repairers, that are left with bulky and costly to store goods.
  Repeal the Sunday Entertainments Act 1979.  This is an obsolete Act that requires businesses that charge admission for entertainment on Good Friday, Christmas or Sundays to apply for a permit to do so. There are now only a few businesses that need to comply with this Act, such as movie theatres, and the Act’s repeal will remove unnecessary regulation which is an annoyance rather than significant cost for businesses and Government.
 

Amend the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 1973 to provide for dealers to submit a statutory declaration declaring a trust account has been inactive for the reporting period instead of it having to be audited, to provide for financial year reporting on trust accounts and to remove the requirement for an approved form when licence plates are surrendered.

This change builds on the efficiencies being made for the motor vehicle industry.
November 2015

The Retail Trading Hours Amendment Bill 2015 recently introduced to Parliament will reduce unnecessary regulation by:

 

  Allowing earlier opening times for general retail shops from Monday to Saturday and later closing on Saturdays.  Associated regulations will increase the range of goods that may be sold by domestic development shops. Changed opening hours will increase choice for retailers to set their own hours and provide greater choice and convenience for tradespeople seeking supplies on the way to jobs.  It will also allow retailers to cater better for commuters.
  Abolishing the distinction between different types of filling stations and modernising the list of prescribed goods they can sell. Changes relating to filling stations will provide greater convenience for consumers and businesses.
  Exempting stalls within short term markets from the Act. This will be a major improvement for the hundreds of small traders who operate through short term markets who will no longer have to apply for a certificate for every market they have a stall in.  It will also save the Department having to process 1000 to 1200 applications a year.
  Abolishing the concept of holiday resorts and exempting Rottnest Island from the Act. Metropolitan trading hours now apply to the Rockingham and Wanneroo holiday precincts and exempting Rottnest Island from the Act will allow retailers on the Island continued freedom to cater for holiday makers.
November 2015 During Repeal Week the Minister announced that fees that can be charged by settlement agents and land valuers will be deregulated from February 2016. Codes of conduct for these occupations will require that consumers be given information about fees prior to entering into a service contract. This will provide flexibility for the sector to respond to market changes. 
November 2015 The Co-operatives Amendment Bill 2015 was introduced to Parliament in November. The amendments will align WA’s laws so they are consistent with national law. Consistent national regulation will allow WA co-operatives to more easily operate interstate.
2016 Commerce is implementing an online licensing and registration program.  During 2015, automatic enrolment for AssociationsOnline and an online consumer complaints form have been introduced.  Over the coming year more substantial efficiencies will be implemented for occupational licensing.  Various amendments to occupational licensing Acts are included in the Licensing Provisions Amendment Bill 2015 introduced to Parliament in Repeal Week that will remove impediments to online licensing such as the requirement for statutory declarations, copies of documents and signed documents. To date the benefits for consumers and associations are small but the benefits for business in the future, in both time saving and reduced paper costs, will be significant.

 

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