RED TAPE: In this week’s Broadcast we have two articles on Red Tape with vastly varying scenarios.

In South Australia, Richard Blandy, Adjunct Professor of Economics in the Business School at the University of South Australia, in the article ‘Cut red tape to boost small business growth’, proposes: “The Federal Government introduced a Cut the Red Tape guide as part of its commitment to regulatory reform.   One of the more feasible options for revitalising the South Australian economy is deregulation.

South Australians have little to lose and many good jobs to gain from a program of business deregulation focussed on small businesses. Faster economic growth, more and better jobs, and rising incomes with less-regulated social and environmental outcomes is a better result than falling real incomes and high unemployment in an over-regulated state in decline.”

Will Richard Blandy’s proposal become a reality? Nice academic theory and small business can but hope, but we would suggest would be a forlorn hope.

While in WA in the article ‘Red tape a red flag for power innovation’ Simon Walsh, Western Power’s executive manager, customer and corporate services, explains: “Can you imagine a shearing shed powered by solar panels? What about an outback town backed up by a battery? At Western Power we’re making it a reality. Six pioneering farming families – our customers – are helping us trial a new way of providing electricity in remote areas that doesn’t involve poles and wires.

“What’s in it for Western Power? Aren’t we doing ourselves out of a job? Not really, because this isn’t a solution for all parts of the grid. In fact, in most parts of the South West we think it makes sense for our customers to remain connected so they can share or trade electricity, even make money on the side.”

“Why not just get on with it then? Unfortunately, we are prohibited by certain regulations from being a generator, for example. So that rules out supplying solar panels and the diesel generator. Even the question of whether a battery is a generator or a storage unit is unclear.

“In the short term, to get around these roadblocks, Horizon Power and Synergy are helping us, as is a local WA success story, Energy Made Clean. We have created a solution for some customers in Ravensthorpe, but it’s the rest of our customers we are thinking about.

“In the longer run, we need more certainty. To this end, and with the support of Energy Minister Mike Nahan, we’ve written to the national body that considers these matters the Australian Energy Market Commission.”

So the task of cutting Red Tape grinds painfully slowly through the silos of the bureaucratic machinery, in the meantime small business is the looser.