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Abbott courts small business

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has made a pitch to small business, saying a Coalition government would seek to save the economy $1 billion a year by slashing red tape.

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has made a pitch to small business, saying a Coalition government would seek to save the economy $1 billion a year by slashing red tape.

As he announced a taskforce to work on the initiative, Mr Abbott yesterday argued federal Labor had introduced a damaging compliance burden on Australia's companies.

Lightening the load was the key to promoting productivity and boosting jobs growth, he said. Leading the Coalition's deregulation taskforce will be new Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, a former banker, public servant, and senior adviser to John Howard.

Mr Abbott said Mr Sinodinos would use his experience to "forensically hold each government department and programme to account", reporting by the middle of next year on how to reduce red tape.

He also committed a Coalition government to vetting every new bill so that its compliance burden was minimised, and publishing the burden that all new laws would place on business. "Since Labor was elected in 2007, it has introduced over 12,835 new regulations and increased the compliance burden on Australia's 2.7 million small businesses," he said.

"During 2011, I have visited over 130 businesses across Australia and I am convinced that freeing up small business from the burden of red tape is a key to lifting national productivity and creating jobs."

Under the Gillard and Rudd governments, business groups have complained of an increased compliance burden in response to initiatives including the paid parental leave scheme, the increase in the superannuation guarantee to 12 per cent, and harmonisation of workplace and safety laws.

The Productivity Commission says reducing the compliance burden could be worth $12 billion to the economy.

Aside from the taskforce, the Coalition says it will reduce red tape by measures such as allowing business owners to shift some of the responsibility for superannuation to the Tax Office and administering its parental paid leave scheme through an arm of the government.


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