Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Policy wrap-up – Australian State/Territory and Federal Government Proposals - April-June 2014

Every couple of months, I do a quick survey of current legal, social and economic policy issues in Australia at both federal and state level.  The survey is provided to the Australian Risk Policy Institute (ARPI) to help set research policy priorities.  ARPI is a non-political, non-governmental body.

Australian policy is generated at both State, Territory and National levels – in a variety of agencies (core and independent).  Like most other world federal structures, there are significant areas of overlap between federal and state responsibilities.  In Australia, more so than in most other federal systems, federal agencies take a direct role in coordinating state activities.  The involvement of the federal agencies is sometimes positive, but it can sometimes create a false impression that the federal government is in some way responsible and accountable for state policy.

The below summary briefly outlines some (but not all) current policy issues.  It provides relevant links and submission end dates.  If you are interested in any of these issues, you should contact the relevant agencies through the links.

Not all live policy reviews have been included – some are specific to particular sectors and only raise technical or very narrow issues.  As with the last couple of round ups, no reviews in the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia nor South Australia have been identified through central government disclosure.  In part, this is because a couple of these jurisdictions are coming out of caretaker/election periods. 

Commonwealth Government

This year the most significant government review will be the Commonwealth Government’s White Paper on Federation.  This has not yet been released – but significant work is underway, it was discussed at COAG in December and, reportedly, Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation will be on the table.  The last is a game changer –in relation to the role of the Commonwealth and national institutions as well as existing state funding arrangements. Some of other reviews previously considered will feed into this white paper (this is certainly the case with the review of the Road Safety Remuneration System).

Proposal to limit the possibility of the use of Di(methoxyethyl) phthalate  in the cosmetic industry. (29/4/14)

Proposal to amend the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in relation to racial vilification. (30/4/14)

Proposal to renew Australia’s response to blood borne viruses (BBV) and sexually transmissible infections (STI) is built on a comprehensive national strategic approach supported by a strong partnership between affected communities, clinicians, researchers and governments. (2/5/14)

Proposal that aircraft operators will no longer need to apply for exemptions to operate aeroplanes into narrower runways than specified by the ARC. Aeroplanes will be required to operate in accordance with an approved AFM narrow runway supplement or specified AFM runway width limitation i.e. the Airbus A380 has an AFM 45 m wide runway limitation. (5/5/14)

Proposal for new Commonwealth legislation that would provide for a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy and, in addition, other innovative ways the law might prevent or redress serious invasions of privacy. (12/5/14)

Review of the operation of the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Act 2012 commenced operation on 1 July 2012 and amended the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act) to: extend most provisions of the Fair Work Act to contract outworkers; enable outworkers to recover unpaid amounts up the supply chain; extend right of entry rules that apply to suspected breaches affecting outworkers, and allow for a textile clothing and footwear code to be issued. (14/5/14)
Review by the Expert Panel conducting the Review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).  (16 May 2014.)

Proposal for an IP Toolkit for Collaboration and seek views on the proposed Toolkit re IP in collaborations between Australia's publicly funded research organisations (PFROs) and the private sector.  (23/5/14)

Proposal on approaches to regulating coastal shipping in Australia. (31/5/14)

Review of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009(PPS Act).  (6/6/14).
Review of competition policy. The key areas of focus for the Review include: identifying regulations and other impediments to competition across the economy; examining the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and the special protections for small business in the CCA; considering whether the structure and powers of the competition institutions remain appropriate; and reviewing government involvement in markets. (10 June 2014)

Proposal by the National Health and Medical Research Council to not recommend a legislative response to Direct to Consumer (DTC) genetic tests purchased directly by consumers (often over the internet and without the involvement of a medical professional). (3/6/14)

Proposal for a National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS), intended to be a complement to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), will provide lifetime care and support to people who sustain a catastrophic injury from a motor vehicle, workplace, medical treatment injury or general accident. (23/5/14) 

Proposal by the Productivity Commission for reform to the state and commonwealth civil systems - Access to Justice.(21/5/14)

New South Wales

Review of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005. (6/6/14)

Review of the Coal Innovation Administration Act 2008. The Coal Innovation Administration Act 2008 led to the establishment of the Coal Innovation NSW advisory body and the Coal Innovation NSW Fund.  The role of Coal Innovation NSW is to provide advice and make recommendations to Government on funding for research and development projects to reduce greenhouse gases. (2/5/14) 

Proposal to develop consolidated, streamlined Crown lands legislation.  (20/6/14)

Proposal to amend native vegetation management in NSW to strike a new balance between efficient agricultural management and protecting the environment.  In response to recommendations made to government, the first three self-assessable codes of practice have been drafted. They cover low risk clearing activities, including: thinning native vegetation, clearing isolated paddock trees in a cultivated area and clearing invasive native species.  This is the next step in an ongoing process to reform the rules governing native vegetation in NSW. (26/5/14)

Ten Year Agriculture Industry Action Plan - Draft taskforce recommendations to Government. (30/4/14)

Proposal to introduce new rules to clarify, standardise and improve biodiversity offsetting for major project approvals under the NSW planning system. (9/5/14)

Australian Capital Territory

Review of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan. (30/4/14)

Proposal for a Principle Based Supported Accommodation Framework aims to provide guidance about how the ACT Government will work in collaboration with people with disability, their families, guardians and service providers about accommodation options.  The Framework initiatives will assist people to make decisions about how they will live in the community and how the ACT community can support those choices. (30/4/14)

Consultation about restricting access to tobacco. The Government does not have a view on any particular option. (12/5/14)

ACT Health have a view on some changes that should be made.  They have issued an updated 2014 policy, to be renamed the ACT Health Smoke Free Environment Policy, will include the implementation of a completely smoke free campus at the Canberra Hospital, and the removal of the designated outdoor smoking areas on the hospital campus from 1 September 2014. As with the current policy, all other ACT Health facilities will continue to be smoke free, and the policy will apply to staff, patients, visitors, contractors, and those leasing ACT Health facilities. Measures will be in place to ensure that smokers in contact with health services are encouraged to manage their nicotine cravings, and if willing, supported in their efforts to quit. (23/5/14)

Review of the operation of the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Act 1983 and possible reforms to the scheme for the provision of financial assistance to victims of crime. (23/5/14)


Review of the regulation of the types and ages of vehicles that may be used as luxury motor vehicles and special purpose limousines. The changes being considered may allow for more opportunities and flexibility to the passenger transport industry, while making sure that vehicle safety is maintained and regulated. (12/5/14)

Proposal about the Technical Services for Contaminated Land—Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement. (16/5/14)

Proposal for a Wind Farm State Code and Draft Wind Farm State Code Planning Guideline. The purpose of the code is to: facilitate the development of new wind farms or the expansion of existing wind farms in appropriate locations and ensure potential adverse impacts on the community and environment are avoided during the construction, operation and decommissioning of wind farms. (13/5/14)

Proposal to reduce waste generation and improving recycling, and priority wastes and areas for action. (30/5/14)

Proposal to assist people with disability to participate in community life by improving the accessibility of the passenger transport network.  (9/5/14)

Proposal to double Queensland’s agriculture production by 2040—as set out in Queensland’s agriculture strategy.  The draft Plan, including feedback on practical ways Government can support the beef industry including: providing public infrastructure and resources—road and rail networks, stock routes, state leasehold land and water allocations; investing in beef industry research, development and extension services that build capacity in the industry; and creating a business and regulatory environment that reduces costs and facilitates industry development by encouraging investment. (21/5/14)


Proposal for a new Planning Policy Framework to: drive a fundamental change in the way planners make decisions to a facilitation approach rather than a regulation approach; be more user friendly by being easier to read, understand and navigate; include more graphics to show spatial policies effectively; and link state, regional and local policy to better align policy matters ensuring local policy retains its important role. (23/5/14)
Review by members of the Board of Inquiry encouraging all Morwell and Latrobe Valley residents to raise their issues and concerns about the mine fire and its impact in accordance with the Inquiry's terms of reference.(12/5/14)
Proposal for mandatory conditions to be implied into all Taxi Driver Agreements.  Once introduced, the implied conditions will automatically form part of any Driver Agreement, even if they are not included in the express text of an agreement. The TSC expects that they will provide better working conditions for drivers by providing for drivers to keep at least 55 % of the gross fares, and to have fewer costs. (8/5/14)

Peter Quinton
April 2014

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