Yesterday’s item on the difficulties facing the Public Service under the new Government prompted one exhausted industry association director to point out that it wasn’t just bureaucrats being put through the wringer.
The massive number of inquiries and reviews launched by the Government since coming to office – 25 major inquiries at the 100 day mark, and more in cross-sectoral areas like OH&S since then – is requiring industry groups to prepare major submissions, all within very tight timeframes. A number of associations are preparing multiple submissions for different portfolios, having just completed their own budget submissions.
None will speak on the record, for obvious reasons, but also because they’re appreciative of the valuable opportunity to influence Government policy. Nevertheless, while one prominent group declared itself “comfortable” with the current level of input being sought by the Government, another described it as “enormous, with seemingly a new inquiry or review every day.”
Large industry bodies might be able to cope, one representative said, but smaller bodies, especially if they work across sectors, are struggling to keep up. Another pointed out that there is considerable reinvention of the wheel going on, with inquiries into “topics that have been reviewed to death”.
“We’re talking about a high level of sophistication in policy development and writing,” said another association executive.
“It is costly, and requires people whose time is valuable.”
A particular problem is Senate inquiries that overlap – if not duplicate – one another as well as Government inquiries such as those by the Productivity Commission. Each requires a detailed, but slightly different, submission, frequently backed by data or modelling.
It also hadn’t escaped notice that the Government was happy to rely on industry for submissions on key policy initiatives, but wasn’t interested in seeking input from industry groups for the 2020 summit.
But just to show that you can never please everyone, one industry group director said his only complaint was that the Government hadn’t instituted all the reviews it said it would in his sector.