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Regulator engagement with small business

Commissioned study

This study has concluded. The final report was sent to the Government on 24 September 2013 and was publicly released on 9 October 2013.

The Australian Government, with the agreement of Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) Business Regulation and Competition Working Group, requested that the Productivity Commission undertake a 9-month benchmarking study into regulator engagement with small business.

The purpose of the research study was to identify leading practices in regulator engagement and determine whether there are opportunities for adoption of these practices to reduce the compliance burden on small business, while sustaining good regulatory outcomes. Specifically, the Commission was asked to:

  • provide evidence on the variety of approaches used by regulators to engage with small business
  • assess the effectiveness of different approaches and identify leading practices, including in overseas jurisdictions, considering:
    • the balance of facilitative, educative and compliance based approaches, including the use of risk-based compliance and enforcement strategies
    • whether approaches appropriately consider the characteristics of small business
    • the extent to which regulatory engagement approaches vary with the nature and objectives of regulations and with the way the regulatory regime is defined by policy makers
    • how the use of particular engagement approaches might shape regulatory culture.
  • identify the levels of assistance and education provided to small businesses and assess whether such assistance could be better targeted to lower compliance costs for small business and improve the administrative efficiency of meeting regulatory objectives.

The Commission was also directed to determine a definition of what constitutes a small business, since inconsistent criteria was adopted across different regulators and jurisdictions.

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