Productivity Commission reports on impacts and progress in Australian wine labelling and food regulation reforms

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st December 2011

The harmonisation of certain wine labelling and food regulation laws in Australia have helped improve the competitiveness of Australian industry, according to a new report from the Productivity Commission.

A ‘discussion draft’ report, titled ‘Impacts of Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reforms: Business Regulation and VET’, was released today by the Productivity Commission. The Productivity Commission is the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body.

The Productivity Commission has been given the role of reporting to COAG periodically on the economic impacts and benefits of COAG reforms that mean aligning certain laws throughout Australia. Some of the reforms have already been implemented, and others are yet to be implemented.

Wine labelling reform

Another reform, which began implementation in 2008, sought to harmonise labelling requirements for wine so that one common label (of the two usually found on wine bottles) can be used for both domestic and export markets.

Before, many winemakers were forced to pay for separate print runs for different labels, which added significantly to production costs.

The Productivity Commission’s report estimated that, since its implementation, the wine labelling reform has resulted in reductions in business costs of around A$20 million each year. The food regulation reform is estimated to have resulted in reduction in business costs of A$1 million each year.

Food regulation reform

One of the COAG’s reforms, sought to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses and not-for-profit organisations in relation to food regulation, without compromising public health.

This reform sought consistency in food legislation, governance arrangements, uniform enforcement and setting or modifying food standards.

COAG asked the government to work closely with the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council to ensure appropriate coordination of the reform activities.

Potential savings from COAG reforms

The Productivity Commission’s preliminary finding is that the 17 business regulation reforms it examined could reduce business costs by around A$4 billion per year, assuming full implementation.

The discussion draft has been released to encourage public discussion and to inform the Productivity Commission’s final report. Submissions are due by 24 February 2012.