QLD business benefits from standardized regulation

Local laws to be made consistent

Queensland small business will benefit from a $2.5 million knowledge management system developed to provide access to regional-specific business licensing and law information.

The system is called the Local Government Toolbox Project and was developed by south-east Queensland local councils under part of the federal government's $50 million Regulation Reduction Incentive Fund (RRIF) which is designed to slash red tape for small business. So far 21 QLD councils and Tweed Shire Council are using the toolbox, which has been upgraded from an existing version.

A spokesperson for Ipswich City Council said the councils redesigned the toolbox in July last year to grant council customers access to development information previously only accessible to staff.

"We upgraded our existing toolbox so business entrepreneurs of hairdressers, service stations, mechanics and others looking to build or expand their business can easily find information on relevant regulations, laws and information on best practices for things like environmental health and staff training," he said.

He said the Web-hosted toolbox is the second instalment of a suite of products being designed to standardize access for customers dealing with multiple councils.

The initiative kicked off late last year with a $7.1 million redesign of development application (DA) processes, piloted by Cairns City Council, and due to be completed in March this year. The proposal includes replacing existing council electronic planning software and systems with a national format to be introduced to establish a standard DA lodgement process.

Close to 100 councils have signed up for the project, 31 projects are on the way and 13 IT suppliers have been shortlisted for the work. Streamlining DA processes is expected to cut permit processing times and save up to $16 million a day.

Other role model councils, which are responsible for piloting and testing the new eDA software, include Redlands Shire Council, Hunters Hill and Baulkham Hills.

Project developer Cirrus Australia, which designed the toolbox, integrated a customer facing Web interface, a scripting initiative to standardize request handling, and a reform of local laws to make legal requirements consistent.

Existing vendors will be paid for the work involved in adapting their system, but at a lower cost than normal due to the large number of councils involved and negotiations.

The toolbox can be accessed at www.toolbox.net.au.

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