The regulatory system should ensure that new regulation and the existing 'stock' are appropriate, effective and efficient. This requires the robust vetting of proposed regulation; 'fine tuning' of existing regulations and selecting key areas for reform.
There is a range of approaches to reviewing existing regulation and identifying necessary reforms. Some are more 'routine', making incremental improvements through ongoing management of the stock; some involve reviews that are programmed, and some are more ad-hoc.
- Among 'management' approaches, red tape targets can be a good way to commence a burden reduction program. But one-in, one-out' rules have more disadvantages than advantages. Regulator practices can play a key role in compliance burdens, with scope apparent for improvement.
- Reviews embedded in legislation can usefully target areas of uncertainty. Sunsetting can help eliminate redundant regulation and ensure that re-made regulation is 'fit for purpose', but requires good preparation. Post implementation reviews, triggered by the avoidance of a regulation impact statement, are an important failsafe mechanism but need strengthening.
- Public stocktakes cast a wide net and can identify cross-jurisdictional and cumulative burdens. Reviews based on a screening principle, particularly the competition test, have been highly effective and could be extended. In-depth reviews are best for identifying options for reform in more complex areas, while benchmarking can point to leading practices.
Designed for different purposes, the techniques within these three categories can complement each other, though their usefulness varies.
Good design features vary for the individual techniques, but all require sound governance and effective consultation. For significant reviews, public exposure of preliminary findings is a key success factor.