Objective 2.1

Continuing to advance a single domestic market for services

The Government and industry agree on the importance of seamless movement of people and services across Australian state and territory borders.

The regulation of many services in Australia sits with state and territory governments. As such, there are different approaches taken by states and territories to maintain standards and protect consumers, the environment and the public.

Industry noted it was important for governments to recognise that the efficiency of Australia’s domestic business environment has a strong bearing on the international competitiveness of services exporters. Regulatory differences across state and territory lines creates impediments at home that hamper the capacity for some services firms to expand overseas.

For professional services, operating nationally often provides the scale necessary for firms to commit to international expansion. However, professional registration and licencing requirements and other business operational requirements that vary between Australian jurisdictions cause inconsistencies and add compliance costs for firms seeking to reach a scale that can sustain export capability.

A seamless business environment across Australia – with more regulatory coherence – would help provide a ‘springboard’ for professional services exporters to grow more quickly in their home market, and then be in a better position to grow beyond it.

Industry noted that consistency in the regulation of professions across Australia would also help in International trade negotiations – being able to present a single set of requirements would place Australia in a stronger position to seek the same in overseas markets at the negotiating table.

Similarly, a common set of rules across Australia provides for a stronger platform to promote Australian standards internationally, increasing the chance of these standards being adopted overseas. This is particularly the case in areas Australia leads globally, such as in the resources sector.

The Government recognises the need for a more seamless business environment across Australia for professional services corporations and firms. We are committed to improving the design, administration and effectiveness of regulations to ensure they are fit for purpose.

In July 2019, the Prime Minister tasked the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, the Hon Ben Morton MP, with revitalising Australia’s regulatory reform and Deregulation agenda. This Deregulation Taskforce is examining regulation from the viewpoint of business, identifying regulations and bureaucratic processes that impose the largest costs on the economy, and working on solutions to remove or streamline those barriers.

Mutual recognition legislation adopted by all Australian governments during the 1990s provides Australia with a well-advanced framework on the free movement of professionals between Australian states and territories. While those provisions are now bedded down and largely consistent, there is still opportunity for improvement.

The Government welcomes the opportunity to work with professional peak bodies to explore how to achieve Greater coherence nationally, including across the different administrative and governance requirements placed on professional services businesses with a national footprint.

On the resources sector, the Productivity Commission released its final report on Resources Sector Regulation on 10 December 2020. The report highlights best-practice and identifies improvements to ensure Australia remains internationally competitive. The Australian Government will now work with state and territory governments to determine next steps for implementation.

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