One of the most difficult tasks facing local councils is how to manage the regulatory responsibilities which local governments is required to undertake while balancing the interests of all of the affected parties. Regulations, and their enforcement, impact on individuals and groups in the community and also on businesses. Councils are well aware of the need to minimize the regulatory burden and avoid unnecessary costs where possible.
The need to avoid unnecessary cost is one of the reasons the Productivity Commission was asked to undertake a benchmarking study on the role of local government as a regulator of business, and the Commission released its draft report in March 2012, with submissions on the draft due by 25 May 2012.
ALGA made an initial submission to the review and is making a further submission on the draft report and one of the issues we have highlighted is the Commission’s finding that most of councils’ time in carrying out their regulatory function is spent implementing and enforcing state and territory regulation. The Commission also found that there were gaps in the support provided to councils by states including limited guidance on how to administer the regulations, insufficient consideration given to the capacity of local government, no clear indication of state priorities and the lack of a central register of state laws placing a role on councils.
ALGA has long argued that local government has been the subject of cost shifting by the states and that includes placing regulatory roles on councils without the necessary support to undertake those roles effectively. The Productivity Commission’s report provides an opportunity for states to reflect on the need to address the burden they place on councils and the resourcing which should go with it and I look forward to the Commission’s final report, due to be released in July. ALGA’s submission will be available early next week.
Mayor Genia McCaffery