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14 July 2020

Regtech key to cutting red tape for small businesses: Ombudsman

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says government investment in regtech would be an effective way to cut red tape for small businesses.

Appearing before a Senate Select Committee hearing today on Financial and Regulatory Technology, Ms Carnell said the emergence of regtech created an opportunity to make life easier for small businesses.

“Research shows us that a quarter of small businesses spend 11 hours a week or more on compliance and close to half estimate the annual cost of compliance is $10,000 plus,” Ms Carnell says.

“Regtech uses information technology to simplify regulatory processes for the end user. It’s a potential game-changer for small businesses trying to navigate Australia’s complex regulatory system.”

The Ombudsman has made a number of key recommendations in regards to key areas where regtech could be implemented including award simplification, tax requirements, skills and training, government procurement and OH&S.

“With effective use of regtech, the government could streamline processes and reduce the burden on small businesses to interpret and implement complex regulations,” Ms Carnell says.

“This would be particularly useful in the industrial relations space where regtech solutions could ensure small businesses are paying wages and entitlements correctly and on time. We’ve recommended the Fair Work Ombudsman accredit regtech solutions for this purpose.

“In addition, government procurement would be optimised with digitisation. Regtech could provide small businesses with easier access to panels and demonstrate ongoing compliance. It could also simplify the tender process for small businesses.

“Ultimately the government has an opportunity to modernise their systems now to reduce red tape so that small businesses can develop the skills and products Australia needs to remain globally competitive.”