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Red Tape Blues

One of the real challenges with running a national operation in Australia is the lack of legislative and regulatory alignment across a wide range of business functions.

PF Olsen Australia recently commissioned a review of forestry rights legislation in order to assist our plans to expand our service offering to small woodlot owners around the country. What we have discovered is that, not only is the application of the forestry rights concept quite variable, the administrative burden is such that in some states, such as NSW, the cost of applying it is prohibitive.

From a forest management perspective, similar issues apply with Codes of Practice, harvest approvals, harvest planning, environmental management and notifications and, to a much lesser extent, safety.

In relation to business management, there exist a raft of administrative requirements that vary quite considerably from state to state, such as administration of long service leave, payroll tax, land rates and vehicle registration rules.

The regulatory burden imposed by this lack of alignment is considerable for small to medium sized businesses – with respect to both time and cost. This also applies to administration of client estates where they cross jurisdictional boundaries.

We have also actively taken the issue forward with state and federal government representatives. While they all recognise the problems and agree that more streamlined regulatory regimes need to be in place for national enterprises, the reality is that there is either little that can be done easily, or too much parochial focus – a good example being the inability to introduce a nationally harmonised safety legislative framework.

The challenge for a company such as PF Olsen Australia is to continue to find more efficient solutions to the administrative burden in order to reduce costs and the risk of administrative non-compliance.