Reducing Red Tape

The Australian Government’s Regulatory Reform Agenda commenced in 2013 as the Deregulation Agenda. A strengthened agenda commenced on 1 July 2016 with a focus on enhancing innovation, competitiveness, productivity and economic growth, as well as reducing regulatory burden.

Regulatory impacts are the costs in time and money for individuals, community organisations or businesses to comply with government rules and regulations. This includes legislation, regulations, quasi-regulations (such as standards and codes of practice) and any other aspect of regulator behaviour which can influence or compel specific behaviour by business and the community. Examples include: the time taken to complete a grant application, time taken to travel to and attend an appointment, time taken to undertake mandatory reporting to Government or the costs of training staff in new rules and regulations.

The Department of Social Services is committed to improving its regulatory approaches towards risk-based, proportional regulatory interventions based on strong evidence.

Ministerial Advisory Committees

Ministerial Advisory Councils (MACs) are required under the Regulatory Reform Agenda for the purpose of consultation. They provide advice to each Cabinet Minister and their respective departments on opportunities to reduce regulatory burden within their portfolios, as well as provide a broader consultation mechanism on policy matters. MACs can be new or existing committees or forums and are comprised of business, not-for-profit and other industry stakeholders.

Within the Department of Social Services, there are two MACs:

The Department also uses other targeted consultation approaches to test policy issues of relevance to the portfolio. This is consistent with the Government’s aim to reduce the number of non-statutory advisory bodies. It also reinforces the portfolio’s established approach to continuous consultation with stakeholders, including through the funding of advocacy groups, peak bodies, welfare groups and industry groups.

International Standards

As part of the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda and the broader Regulatory Reform Agenda, the Government has adopted the principle that if a system, service or product has been approved under a trusted international standard or risk assessment, then Commonwealth regulators should not impose any additional requirements for approval in Australia, unless it can be demonstrated that there is a good reason to do so. The objective of this principle is to reduce regulatory burden and remove barriers to trade.

To implement this principle, DSS, in consultation with portfolio regulators and key stakeholders, has developed the following criteria for assessing the appropriateness of adopting a particular international standard or risk assessment.

Criteria for assessing the potential adoption of international standards or risk assessments

  1. The standard or risk assessment is trusted. For example, it has been agreed multilaterally (e.g. through the World Trade Organization) or is from an overseas jurisdiction that is at the forefront of international best practice in the relevant area.
  2. Australia has no specific conditions or circumstances that warrant distinct regulatory standards or risk assessment processes.
  3. Adopting the standard or risk assessment will result in an overall net benefit (including regulatory, economic and social benefits).
  4. Stakeholders generally support the adoption of the standard or risk assessment.


On 15 March 2016, the Australian Government Annual Red Tape Reduction Report was released. This Report highlights the contributions the Department made in 2015 to reduce regulation for the benefit of individuals, businesses and the community sector.

Further Information

The Department’s Organisational Policy and Regulatory Reform section supports best practice approaches to regulation across the Social Services portfolio. You can contact the section at if you would like to discuss your ideas about how the Department can reduce regulation and red tape.

For further information, the Cutting Red Tape website provides whole-of-government information about the Regulatory Reform Agenda and tracks the Government's efforts to improve regulation.

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