[News] Morrison government’s electoral changes worst-ranked piece of legislation: report

The chair of the project’s governing committee, former NSW Treasury secretary Percy Allan, said faulty decision-making processes at all levels of government contributed towards corruption, misallocation of resources and waste of public money.

“Having auditors-general, integrity bodies and select committees of inquiry rake over failed policies and processes does not fix the underlying problem, which is that no government in Australia consistently addresses the above questions when making policy,” he said.

Former NSW Treasury secretary Percy Allan says all governments need to improve the way they put legislation together.Credit:Natalie Grono

Western Sydney University chancellor and former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peter Shergold, said policy and lawmaking had to improve.

“Having just completed a review of Australian governments’ response to COVID-19, I am utterly convinced that we cannot make good policy decisions in a crisis if we are not better practised at developing evidence-based legislation during more ‘normal’ times,” he said.

“Assessing the diversity of short- and longer-term costs and benefits, based on wide-ranging stakeholder consultation, is vital.”

Of the 20 pieces of legislation reviewed by the two think tanks, just three were found to follow outstanding processes.

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These included Queensland’s changes to housing laws aimed at improving the security of renters, NSW’s laws that now allow for the mandatory testing of blood where someone has tried to spit or put other bodily fluids on a police or emergency worker, and the Morrison government’s changes to the definition of casual work and awards.

Two pieces of law, in Queensland and at the federal level, were found to follow acceptable processes while another nine across all jurisdictions were found to be mediocre.

The mediocre laws included Victoria’s sex work discrimination legislation and its planned charges on electric vehicles, NSW’s voluntary assisted dying laws, Queensland’s changes to defamation law, and the federal government’s changes to medicinal cannabis regulation.

Per Capita executive director Emma Dawson said all governments, of both political persuasions, continued to struggle with the creation of new laws.

“As in previous years, our analysis shows that rigorous, evidence-based processes to design and implement policies are undertaken inconsistently at all levels of government, regardless of their political persuasion,” she said.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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