McGowan makes pitch to business

WA Labor has thrown down its pitch to the WA business community, announcing plans for a regulation reform agency and the appointment of a technology minister as the party moves towards the next State election.

Speaking at the State branch's annual conference yesterday, Labor leader Mark McGowan declared he would "cut the burden of bureaucracy and over-regulation in WA" to "slash wasteful and unnecessary red tape".

The move to create a reform agency, which was supported by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, came on the back of an Economic Regulation Authority recommendation in its draft report into microeconomic reform, released in April.

Mr McGowan said the agency, which would sit in the Department of Premier and Cabinet or the Department of Finance, would set targets for reform so government could hit "key performance indicators".

"I want these targets and each agency's performance published so the business community can see our commitment to reforming regulation and help stoke an innovative business environment," Mr McGowan said.

And in a direct pitch to the State's fledgling information and communications technology industry, Mr McGowan said Labor would, if elected, introduce an ICT minister.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Mr McGowan said an ICT minister was needed to help diversify WA's economy.

"Clearly technology, ICT and the flow-on industries from that sector need to have a more prominent place in government policy and in the State economy," Mr McGowan said.

"The Premier is a dinosaur with these things . . . they don't have any interest. There's 48,000 people directly and indirectly employed in the sector, and unless we move to embrace it, they'll continue to leave WA."

Colin Barnett declined to comment on Mr McGowan's speech.

CCI chief executive Deidre Willmott described the reform agency move as a "positive announcement" that acknowledged the cost of unnecessary or duplicative regulations for WA businesses.

The West Australian

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