Mr Morrison named 15 priority projects including the expansion of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, the Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane, the Marinus electricity link between Tasmania and Victoria, emergency town water projects in NSW and iron ore projects in Western Australia.
The government estimates the 15 projects to be worth more than $72 billion in public and private investment and to support 66,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Mr Morrison said “joint assessment teams” would be set up with the states to fast-track the projects.
“Under our new approach, this investment and most importantly these jobs will be brought to market earlier by targeting a 50 per cent reduction in Commonwealth assessment and approval times for major projects from an average of 3.5 years to 21 months,” he said.
Mr Morrison praised the NSW government for its swift approvals for the Snowy 2.0 project, saying it helped support 2000 regional jobs.
“Successful deregulation has increased competition and economic efficiency, raising productivity and ultimately supporting jobs and wages,” Mr Morrison said in a speech on Monday morning to the Committee for Economic Development Australia.
“This is already included simplifying business registers, streamlining documentation and micro-business to employ people.”
In a move that elevates this deregulation agenda, Mr Morrison used the speech to announce he would transfer the government taskforce on the issue into his own department. The deregulation taskforce has reported to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg within Treasury but will move to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
One of Mr Morrison’s closest advisers, Assistant Minister Ben Morton, will continue to run the deregulation agenda, reporting more directly to the Prime Minister from his own department.
Mr Morrison said he wanted “pragmatic” decisions by regulators in a culture change rather than only a change in rules.
“This applies to the culture of regulators as much as to the content of regulations,” he said of the broader agenda.
“I’m sure anyone in business would understand that point. This crisis has shown what can be achieved when regulators are pragmatic and responsive, solving problems without compromising safeguards.”
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David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.