How bureaucratic dark matter is swallowing our wealth

How bureaucratic dark matter is swallowing our wealth, by Kurt Wallace.

At every turn businesses are weighed down by red tape that prevents growth, discourages job creation, and sucks resources away from productive activity. Adding to the burden is the unknown nature of regulation that requires businesses to constantly be involved in researching regulation and the intentions of multiple regulators. …

Parliament delegates the power to create regulation, allowing regulators to expand the red tape burden without the restriction of having to pass legislation through parliament. …

Looking at just five regulators in the banking and finance sectors the report finds 75,976 pages of regulatory dark matter … eight times larger than the legislation passed by parliament that grants powers to these agencies. This means, that for every page of legislation we can expect eight more pages to be added by the regulators.

A large amount of regulatory dark matter is made up of quasi-regulatory documents including regulatory guides, bulletins, and information sheets that clarify and interpret official regulations.

These documents combine to create a mountain of material weighing down on businesses. While they may lack official legal status, these documents cannot be safely ignored as they provide insight into how the regulator intends to enforce regulations. Guidance material may assist businesses with understanding existing regulation, but they also contain an additional level of interpretation.

The power granted to unelected bureaucrats has contributed to Australia being ranked 77th out of 140 countries for the burden of government regulation by the World Economic Forum. Agencies are faced with the incentive to expand their power and size through rulemaking that is unchecked by direct democratic accountability.

This has seen public sector employment increase from 12 to 15 per cent of the workforce over the last five years.