Cutting red tape online

Picture: file image.
Picture: file image.

A CENTRAL database for all cat and dog registrations could soon be created as the State Government works to cut red tape.

Local Government Minister David Templeman said the initiative would be part of its Stop Puppy Farming proposal and would streamline the process.

“Owners will be able to register their pets online and when they move, they’ll be able to easily update their contact details,” he said.

“We want that portability through online databases that can be shared and this will be an example of red tape being a much more streamlined and efficient process.”

Mr Templeman said the review of the Local Government Act had already brought in a range of initiatives to get local governments online with the Amendment Bill being passed in late June.

“This is a major initiative because the reality is, in the modern world ratepayers and residents shouldn’t have to go into the local council office and seek to view documents and information that should be readily available to them,” he said.

“This ranges from agendas, council decisions, council proposals and policies, transparency around councillors and declaration of gifts, chief executive declarations and all of those sorts of things.”

Mr Templeman said the government was also encouraging councils to have online approval processes to cut down wait times.

“For example, businesses wanting to apply for alfresco licences,” he said.

“There’s a number of councils, such as Victoria Park, where it’s a very streamlined process. You apply, you tick a box to comply with the requirements and you can get an approval within 24 to 48 hours rather than waiting weeks and weeks.

“It helps activate places and spaces without having to go through a long and enduring decision-making process that really should just be an approval process that’s simplistic.

“Local councils should be in the business of supporting small and medium businesses to flourish and always looking at its own practises to maximise the opportunity for them to flourish, and I think a lot of councils are doing that.”

Small Business Development Corporation commissioner David Eaton said they were also working with the local government sector to “improve the operating environment for small businesses”.

“Through its Small Business Friendly Local Governments initiative, 33 local governments (covering more than half of all small businesses in WA) have now shown their commitment to reducing red tape that hinders businesses and recognising small businesses as important customers and suppliers, and to continuously improve their communication and processes,” he said.

Mr Templeman said the government was still assessing consultation feedback and “what a modern Local Government Act will look like” as the review continued.

“And I’m confident a lot of councils will themselves, if they haven’t already done it, look at how they can reduce red tape because at the end of the day, that makes their processes more streamlined and it helps create opportunities in their communities to make them more vibrant and more effective and support local businesses,” he said.

The State Government plans a green paper before any Bill that could replace the Local Government Act possibly next year.

The process is concurrent with a Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry in local government, which is seeking submissions until August 23 before its report in about a year.

Opposition local government spokesman Bill Marmion said it would be advisable to not send out the paper before the inquiry is completed.

“One could argue the green paper should take into account what the inquiry will be saying,” Mr Marmion said.

However, he said the Government could have quickened its part of the process by flagging early changes, not repeating previous reform work and not introducing new issues, such as locals governments’ increasing their roles in combating climate change and emissions reduction.