Look at what they do not what they say

The Morrison government has a laser like focus on reducing red tape and green tape.  Yeah yeah.  Blah blah.  They talk a big game but are really playing tiddlywinks.

Take today’s latest example.  Just reported in the AFR:

The prudential regulator has whacked Commonwealth Bank’s superannuation arm with additional licence conditions, 17 months after it was revealed to have charged dead customers financial advice fees.

Importantly, let’s make it abundantly clear.  TAFKAS is not excusing or endorsing what CBA is alleged to have done.  BUT.

APRA is the prudential regulator.  ASIC is the conduct regulator.

APRA issues banking licences.  ASIC issues financial services licences.

Why then is APRA slapping conditions on CBA’s banking licence for conduct related to its financial services (not banking) business?

Why.  Because hey.  They are regulators, they need to be tough and banks are bad and the budget needs some more penalty dollars.

Red tape and green tape does not just exist in the form of rules written on paper.  It also takes the form of vague and fuzzy regulations and laws, written by lazy and inept legislators, which give apparently near endless powers to regulators to go beyond their mandates.  It creates uncertainty.  It creates risk.  It necessitates lots of external lawyers, accountants and compliance advisors.  It adds to the cost of doing business which then translates into the price paid by consumers.

Let TAFKAS repeat.  Complexity is a subsidy.  It does not hurt the large organisations.  They have the power to pass on the costs.  It hurts smaller businesses and kills competition.

But the lack of competition is really what regulators want.  They want a handful of large and fat clients; such that the regulators don’t even need to get out of their ergonomic chairs (or off their yoga balls) to slap around.

The next time the economic commentariat  goes on about poor retail sales figures being a drag on the economy, perhaps they might be asked why are the retail sales figures poor?  Could it perhaps be the drag on production from laws, regulations, taxes and regulators?  Could it be?  Just maybe?

Laser focus on reducing red and green tape.  Yeah right.

Look at what they do not what they say.  Even better.  Look over there while they restructure the public service to implement policies that don’t exist.

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22 Responses to Look at what they do not what they say

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    The prudential regulator has whacked Commonwealth Bank’s superannuation arm with additional licence conditions, 17 months after it was revealed to have charged dead customers financial advice fees.

    Did anyone tell the CBA their customer was dead?
    Banks don’t have telepathy, afaik.
    Even if APRA and ASIC seem to.
    Thought crime is everywhere!
    So are yummy fines.

  2. Tel

    Let TAFKAS repeat. Complexity is a subsidy. It does not hurt the large organisations. They have the power to pass on the costs. It hurts smaller businesses and kills competition.

    Actually complexity hurts everyone … but the damage falls disproportionately on the little guy.

  3. procrustes

    Tel, yes. You said it more simply than I did.

  4. Tim Neilson

    Red tape and green tape does not just exist in the form of rules written on paper. It also takes the form of vague and fuzzy regulations and laws, written by lazy and inept legislators, which give apparently near endless powers to regulators to go beyond their mandates. It creates uncertainty. It creates risk. It necessitates lots of external lawyers, accountants and compliance advisors. It adds to the cost of doing business which then translates into the price paid by consumers.

    It’s also one of the greatest weapons available to would-be totalitarians.

    Selective enforcement of laws that actually catch everyone is a great way to enforce things (e.g. wokeness) that have never been enacted democratically, while maintaining a veneer of legality.

  5. procrustes

    Eff it. My rant seems to have got lost.

    What Tel said.

  6. Nob

    Complexity is a subsidy. It does not hurt the large organisations. They have the power to pass on the costs. It hurts smaller businesses and kills competition.

    Liberty quote.

    Succinctly expressed what I’ve been trying to say for years.

    Thanks TAFKAS

  7. Nob

    vague and fuzzy regulations and laws, written by lazy and inept legislators, which give apparently near endless powers to regulators to go beyond their mandates. It creates uncertainty. It creates risk.

    Also excellent.

    It’s kind of an electric fence syndrome. You don’t have the time and resources to figure out where every fence is, so you don’t even go near the paddock that you think might have a fence.

    Big company hires lawyers – and let’s be honest, the most useful are ones who were complicit in framing and enforcing the regulation, so it’s a kind of legalised corruption – so, big company hires these people and sucks up the good business by being able to confidently go close the the fence.

  8. Rayvic

    It is alarming, if not unethical, for regulators to be putting pressure on corporations to accept and make provision for man-made climate change, given that there is no scientific evidence to substantiate the propaganda being pedalled by United Nations corruption.

  9. Ellen

    Yes, too much regulation. So what if the banks just behaved well, didn’t charge the dead fees, didn’t rip off the living? Then there’d be no need for so much regulation.

    Did the banks know the customers were dead? Hard not to, after a death during the probate process, bank accounts are closed etc. The banks missed that?

  10. RobK

    But the lack of competition is really what regulators want. They want a handful of large and fat clients; such that the regulators don’t even need to get out of their ergonomic chairs (or off their yoga balls) to slap around.
    I went to a water-use seminar a couple of years ago. At the meet and greet afterwards one of the main men from the government said pretty much exactly that.
    My experience with the Dept of environment confirms the MO.

  11. Nob

    They’re not being made to do anything affecting climate.
    They’re being made to funnel money to various vaguely-identified Green causes.

  12. Art Vandelay

    Let TAFKAS repeat. Complexity is a subsidy. It does not hurt the large organisations. They have the power to pass on the costs. It hurts smaller businesses and kills competition.

    Spot on. People and politicians whinge about the lack of competition in many Australian industries (eg, banking, petrol) and demand even more regulation. This extra red tape, in turn, raises barriers to entry and just further entrenches the dominant position of the incumbents.

  13. Nob

    A majority of idiots also think cracked Sydney tower blocks are solely the result of deregulation.

    Seriously, that’s what they come out with if I even open my mouth about regulations strangling Australian business.

  14. Tintarella di Luna

    I thought this quote was apt to this post except in my view it should be intellectuals, bullies, and would-be totalitarians

    Intellectuals rarely enter professional politics and still more rarely conquer responsible office. But they staff political bureaus, write party pamphlets and speeches, act as secretaries and advisers, make the…politician’s…reputation….In doing these things they…impress their mentality on almost everything that is being done.

    — Joseph Schumpeter

  15. Isn’t selective enforcement also known as discretion?

    Call it what is going on for what it really is, targeting political opportunities and enemies.

    Having a rock-ribbed opposition to discretion would have awful results in itself, such as no relief in equity and so on.

  16. @Frank

    Having a rock-ribbed opposition to discretion would have awful results in itself, such as no relief in equity and so on.

    Discretion is not about going outside your regulatory lane (ie APRA straying into conduct regulation). Discretion is not about optically driven enforcement.

    And with discretion, there is accountability. Which is where here?

  17. Rafe Champion

    As with magicians, watch their hands not their mouths.

  18. struth

    If we are to only judge the Liberal party on it’s actions , then clearly we are governed by a Socialist Green, anti small business , over regulating party, subservient to the Global Socialist UN and the main benefactor of it’s corrupt and criminal activities, China.

  19. Tim Neilson

    Frank Walker from National Tiles
    #3258918, posted on December 12, 2019 at 6:47 am

    It’s true that any time an administrator is given a statutory discretion there’s a risk of the discretion being misused.
    But there are matters of degree.
    At one extreme is a statutory discretion given on the basis that it’s to be used in accordance with clear statutory directives as to relevant factors.
    At the other extreme there are sweeping strict liability criminal offences, with no statutory discretions for leniency, which are just never prosecuted – until one day they are, against someone who, by sheer coincidence, is unpopular with the “progressives”.
    Didn’t Dinesh D’Souza get pinged in that way in the USA?

  20. thefrollickingmole

    Isn’t selective enforcement also known as discretion?

    See also :Anarcho-tyranny.

    You are always breaking the law any time we choose to investigate you.

  21. Andre Lewis

    The myth that elected governments make policies that take effect through regulation is busted. They make policies but the bureaucracy interprets this in whatever way it sees fit to benefit itself and meet the public service world view. Regulators make their role so complicated that ministers asking for advice on what they are doing finds out virtually nothing other than what the mandarins want them to. Same with passing acts of parliament and laws as the judiciary carries on doing what they think is right and proper and the government intent is left far behind. Does not matter which party gets in the same panjandrums run the show.

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