Regulations rushed through in Qld, as revealed by QPC Annual Report 2019-20

The Queensland Productivity Commission’s 2019-20 Annual Report has revealed a huge increase in the number of state government regulatory changes which have been excluded from the rigour of the normal regulatory assessment process (see chart below, which is based on eyeballing Figure 1.3 on p. 15 of the QPC’s Annual Report). This process usually involves the preparation of a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) and public consultation. Note that PIA stands for Preliminary Impact Assessment, a much less rigorous review than a RIS, and PIR stands for Post-Implementation Review.

The number of proposals being excluded from the rigorous review process (because they are self-assessed by agencies as being minor) has grown by around 80% since 2017-18.* The number of proposals being subject to a PIA (i.e. a less rigorous review) has more than doubled since 2017-18, signalling a huge growth in red tape, and it appears only a fraction of regulations going through a PIA end up going through the full RIS process. Note that the huge growth in regulatory proposals started before COVID, with a big jump in 2018-19.

While the number of proposals undergoing a full RIS or PIA has more than doubled since 2017-18, that largely reflects the huge growth in regulatory proposals being advanced by Queensland Government agencies, and it’s still a relatively small number of proposals being fully assessed.

Overall, my reading of the data is that Queensland Government agencies have been over-active in creating new regulations over the last few years. It’s likely many of those regulations are unnecessary or poorly designed.

Incidentally, Joe Branigan and I commented on the upcoming transfer of the QPC into Queensland Treasury in our Queensland Budget update report prepared for the Australian Institute for Progress:

It is also disappointing that, at a time when high-quality independent economic policy advice is required more than ever before, the Queensland Productivity Commission…has been also absorbed back into Queensland Treasury.

I trust the Government will still release information on the number of proposals going through (or not going through) the RIS process after the QPC is moved into the Treasury.

For more on regulation, check out my recently published CIS Policy Paper Rationalising Regulation.

*Since I originally posted this, and following a look at previous QPC Annual Reports, it appears the number of exclusions is only for those regulatory changes the agencies submit to the QPC to get ticked off as exclusions. It looks like there may be a larger number of self-assessed minor changes that are simply logged by the agencies and do not require the tick of approval for an exclusion from the QPC. Unfortunately, the data are not presented in a very clear way.

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