Consumer Affairs Victoria's initiatives to reduce red tape

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Continue to modernise and simplify legislation to reduce red tape



Remove licence and travel compensation fund requirements for travel agents

This project will abolish licensing of travel agents and wind down compulsory membership of the Travel Compensation Fund to reflect the evolution of the travel industry, and the development of new quality assurance schemes such as the National Tourism Accreditation Framework.

Travel agents would face lower costs because:

  • They would not have to comply with licensing requirements
  • Education requirements for staff would be abolished
  • Businesses would not need to meet existing requirements to maintain membership of the Travel Compensation Fund, such as having accounts audited or maintaining excess capital reserves.

A majority of State Ministers approved a Travel Industry Transition Plan on 7 December 2012. Implementation of the Plan is underway, commencing with the preparation of a substitute Trust Deed that will amend the functions of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) to remove prudential regulation and establish a closure date by end 2015. The Deed will come into effect on 1 July 2013. Parallel work has commenced to assist the Australian Federation of Travel Agents to develop a voluntary industry accreditation scheme

Reforms to come online by 1 July 2014 include removal of annual financial reporting requirements to the TCF (expected for July 2013) and Victorian licensing requirements (expected for 1 July 2014).

Implement harmonised national co-operatives law

In accordance with the Australian Uniform Co-operatives Law Agreement, Victoria enacted the Co-operatives National Law (CNL) on 7 March 2013. The CNL is expected to reduce red tape for co-operatives in Victoria.

It is expected that News South Wales and Victoria will jointly commence the legislation before the end of 2013, once the Co-operatives National Regulations and local regulations have been prepared. Jurisdictions, such as Queensland, which will not be prepared to commence their legislation in 2013 will commence at a second, later stage.

Reduce the costs associated with compliance for businesses



Reduce time for small businesses in understanding their key regulatory obligations by up to 15 - 25% through compliance assistance initiatives

Compliance assistance

Consumer Affairs Victoria’s (CAV) Compliance Assistance Site Visits Program provides practical advice to businesses (mostly small businesses) on how to improve compliance with the law. In addition, where minor or technical breaches of the law are identified, the aim will be to provide businesses with the information and advice they need to bring their conduct, processes or record keeping into compliance.

Small businesses often do not have the expertise in-house to fully understand their regulatory obligations. By providing compliance assistance for small businesses, CAV anticipates this free service would save traders time in getting up to speed unaided. For example, it may be the case that 1 hour with CAV compliance experts might save a sole trader 2 to 3 hours of learning time unaided, or time spent seeking advice or attending general seminars.

Compliance assistance site visits would normally follow and support industry-wide education (see Trader Education below) and feed into inspection and enforcement actions concerning high risk traders.

Compliance assistance site visits will be targeted at the following sectors: retailers, real estate agents (including property management), conveyancers, motor car traders, travel agents, second-hand dealers and pawnbrokers, funeral directors, retirement village operators, and residential park operators.

Trader education

CAV has innovated targeted and high impact means of educating and supporting businesses to easily understand their responsibilities and be compliant. For example, this includes trader education resources as part of the:

  • Small Business Program (helpline, dedicated website landing page)
  • Product Safety Guide for Businesses (multi-lingual guidebook).

Reduce time costs of compliance inspections for individual traders subject to cross jurisdictional compliance monitoring by 25% through conducting integrated compliance and joint inspections with other regulators (Victorian, state and national) in co-regulated areas where appropriate

CAV shares regulatory responsibility with national and other Victorian state regulators in certain sectors. CAV has and will continue to increase coordination efforts with other regulators to reduce the impact on traders having to deal with multiple regulators.

Proposed areas include:

  • rooming houses (with local councils)
  • product safety (with Customs)
  • sex work (with local councils, Department of Immigration & Citizenship and Victoria Police)
  • fair trading (with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and other state regulators)
  • licensed motor car trader inspections with New South Wales Fair Trading.

Reduce the costs of licensing and registration for businesses and not-for-profits



Reduce the time licensees and registrants take to complete annual statement by 15% for up to 80% of licensees or registrants through online renewals processes

Licensees and registrants who wish to renew their licence and have not changed their details, have the functionality to lodge their payments on-line without needing to complete a paper annual statement.

Reduce approval time for less complex or low risk occupational licence applications administered by CAV by 15%

Prior to 1 May 2013, all licensing decisions, regardless of complexity were made by the Business Licensing Authority (BLA). Applications are now divided into three different categories depending on complexity, Tiers 1 to 3.

Licensing officers will process and approve Tier 1 applications without referring them to the BLA for decision. The BLA will review and approve the more complex Tier 2 (i.e. more complex applications including all sex work applications) and 3 applications (i.e. applications from otherwise ineligible persons).

Efficiencies of electronic handling of licensing files that would also be achieved include:

  • automated workflow
  • moving ’low risk’ decisions to front line staff.

Reduce dispute management costs for businesses and landlords



Reduce costs associated with disputes for small businesses participating in CAV’s dispute resolution service by 15%

This free service saves small businesses costs (fees, litigation etc) associated with taking disputes to the Small Business Commission, court or VCAT fees.

CAV is cognisant of the burden for small businesses and the effects of a delay in resolving a dispute. It also recognises that small businesses face consumer issues similar to ordinary consumers.

This is a new initiative which commenced on 1 July 2011 and was more formally ratified when amendments were made to fair trading legislation in April 2012.

Reduce the cost of non-urgent repair tenancy inspections and VCAT attendance for landlords (including by property managers or estate agents) by 15%

Normally a tenant sends CAV a request for a repairs inspection and CAV then dispatches letters to the tenant and landlord, firstly acknowledging the tenant’s request and secondly alerting the landlord.

In certain circumstances, replacing this letter with a more immediate notice mechanism, such as an SMS alert or a phone call to the landlord, puts the landlord on notice that CAV has received a request for an inspection from a tenant and of CAV’s intention to attend the premises to conduct a repairs inspection. This often triggers action by the landlord to undertake the repairs before the inspection, thus reducing the burden to the landlord of being required to attend an inspection or appear at VCAT.

Prior to January 2011, CAV piloted SMS messaging capability to:

  • prompt landlords to act on repairs or goods left behind without having to involve them in a VCAT action
  • alert businesses (amenable to conciliation) of the complaint to give the option for parties to resolve disputes at front end.

This showed a degree of success in changing the behaviour of landlords choosing to action the repairs.