Government | Regulation

Reducing red tape essential for economic growth

To help drive economic growth in Queensland, streamlining regulation, cutting red tape and reducing bureaucracy is essential for creating certainty and making it easier to do business, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps told a CEDA audience in Brisbane.

To help drive economic growth in Queensland, streamlining regulation, cutting red tape and reducing bureaucracy is essential for creating certainty and making it easier to do business, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps told a CEDA audience in Brisbane.

"In 2010-11, the resources sector and exploration industry...contributed $40 billion or 15 per cent of Queensland Gross State Product and accounted for 58,000 jobs last month," he said.

"The rapid growth in resources and energy has given rise to a higher level of community interest and brought the industry into close proximity with a range of other land users such as agriculture and urban residential areas.

"The Government will devote energy and resources to addressing these land use and community issues, and ensuring the appropriate balance is struck."

Mr Cripps said the Government's Statutory Regional Planning Framework will map out the economic and social infrastructure needed to support economic growth in communities.

This focus will provide a level of certainty that the resources industry and community need for future development in areas such as the Golden Triangle and the Darling Downs in Central Queensland, he said.

"A challenge is to balance growth in the resources sector, respect the environment and share the wealth it generates with local communities," he said.

Mr Cripps said the resources sector also presents an opportunity for regional communities to grow and for regional infrastructure to be improved.

"We cannot take the resources boom for granted, we must drive productivity improvements and, innovate and increase productivity to get the policy and regulatory settings right in order to remain globally competitive in Queensland," he said.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, Chief Executive Officer, Shane Charles said more needs to be done about sustainability for communities, to keep money locally and promote regional economies.

The Toowoomba area is internationally recognised as the world's growth area in energy, particularly coal seam gas, Mr Charles said.

"There is a 30 - 50 year time frame for the energy sector going forward. This is not a short-term boom-bust cycle," he said.

"This is a once in a life time opportunity to revitalise communities and get business to take advantage of growth."

Mr Charles highlighted that to remain sustainable, the town shouldn't be set up to rely on mining and energy.

"I see the future as a transport and logistics hub, and intermodal freight terminal. There is a big need for a regional airport, and inland rail which has been proposed from Melbourne to Toowoomba," he said.

Upcoming power and coal projects cannot happen unless the Surat Basin rail, to be completed by 2015, can get finished, otherwise coal cannot be transported to the port of Brisbane, he said.

Australian Agricultural Company, Director, David Crombie said a challenge for Australia's agriculture sector is to produce quality food using less water, fertiliser, chemicals and labour.

With world population growth expected to increase, there will be a shift in food and fibre demand in our region as a result of economic growth, he said.

Mr Crombie highlighted there needs to be a greater focus on research to give farmers the tools to be more globally competitive.

"Policy development, a set framework and a national policy are important for agriculture with strong input from COAG, businesses and the farm sector," he said.

"We need a suite of policies at a national level to empower farmers... we need policies that talk about outcomes, with minimum regulation.

"Australia and New Zealand farmers are the least protected in the world with around three per cent of Gross Farm Income.

"Our prices are set in the international market in competition with suppliers who are receiving 30 - 40 per cent of their revenues from government supports.

"We need to find a solution that recognises the long-term value of food production on prime farming land that's protective of environmental assets including water.

"The biggest issue is communication and ensuring we tell stories and gain the trust of the wider community to create a perception, and awareness of the importance of land management, food production and what we are going to do about it."

Carnival Australia, Chief Executive Officer, Ann Sherry AO outlined how cruise ship success in Australia delivers flow on effects to the wider economy.

"Queensland accounts for about 25 per cent of cruise passengers and Queensland is the second largest market for cruise passengers in Australia," she said.

"Cruising is usually part of an extended holiday. We contribute to airports, hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions, taxis and tour operators."

However, she said the situation with Brisbane's port facilities is urgent, especially as Asia see themselves as Australia's biggest competitor, and are vying to have ships ported in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.

"Brisbane's port side facilities are inadequate as larger ships are unable to port the channel as it is too narrow and shallow," she said.

QIC, Chief Executive, Dr Doug McTaggart said Queensland was the quintessential state that optimised the two-speed economy.

A major issue for Queensland in the global economy is Japan.

"Japan imports all of its coal from Queensland and growth in Japan is not good. However, as Japan has shut down their nuclear industry, this will increase Japanese demand for coal and gas," he said.

He predicted in 2011-12 Queensland will grow at five per cent per annum and that will continue for the next few years compared to national average of three per cent.

He highlighted that within the Queensland economy there are three groups of sectors:

  • Traditional strengths - mining, agriculture and manufacturing;
  • Population driven sectors - wholesale, retail, health care and social assistance, public administration and safety; and
  • Enablers, which provide the foundations and inputs for the traditional strengths and population driven sectors to thrive.

"Overall all sectors are expected to grow over the next few years," he said.

Ernst and Young, Regulation and Policy, Oceania Leader - Power and Utilities, Partner Economics, Regulation and Policy, Matthew Rennie acknowledged the energy regulation industry is overly complex.

He said from the vast number of changes that have been made to the rules, it has created complexity.

This means the energy arrangements and regulations are inaccessible to many companies and this is impacting economic development, Mr Rennie said.

"If we are going to grow and develop as a state, taking a hard look at whether it is working and how we act as a state might be one of the better investments we make," he said.

The Queensland Economic Development Forum was held in Brisbane in May 2012. An initiative of CEDA, working with major sponsors the University of Queensland Business School and the Logan Office of Economic Development, the QEDF brought together practitioners, policy makers and industry to analyse the factors of success for Queensland economic development. CEDA members can access full presentations and audio from QEDF speakers here.