Redesigning Regulation to meet 21st Century Challenges
Regulators currently face many challenges, ranging from an array of data-driven technologies to climate change and globalisation. The regulation and design program explores innovation in the methods, tools and enforcement of regulation, with a particular focus on how regulators can approach both the use of emerging technology, as well as their regulation. Further, the program considers the appropriateness of different regulatory tools, such as prescriptive versus outcome-based regulation, in new and changing contexts.
It is an opportune time for innovative thinking and action on regulatory design. The risks and opportunities posed by new and rapidly developing technologies are great, but in many cases, still unclear. Governments are proposing new policies to stymie the potential harms of technologies such as artificial intelligence. However, it is still unclear which mix of regulatory mechanisms is best suited to the new risks posed by emerging technologies. Further, new regulatory tools may become available with the adoption of data-centric and algorithmic technologies
New Initiatives in Enforcing Employment Standards
The well-being of more than nine million Australian employees is underpinned by statutory workplace entitlements. For the large majority of these employees, these are set by federal legislation. The statutory entitlements are meaningful only in so far as they are complied with, and improving the effectiveness of the federal enforcement agency, the Fair Work Ombudsman, is therefore of crucial public importance.
This project provides the first comprehensive scholarly evaluation of the Fair Work Ombudsman whose office is responsible for the enforcement of working conditions relating to pay, reasonable working hours and leave, amongst other regulatory functions. The findings of this project identify multiple ways in which enforcement practices can be improved, not only for the Fair Work Ombudsman, but also comparable compliance agencies domestically and overseas.
The Research Fellow for this project is Dr Tess Hardy
Aims of the Project
This project examines the compliance and enforcement functions of the federal government agency responsible for ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, minimum employment conditions. More than nine million Australians have their entitlements to pay, leave and working hours underpinned by mandated employment standards set by either statutory minima or modern awards.
Under this regulatory regime, the Fair Work Ombudsman is the government agency that is primarily responsible for securing compliance with these rights and standards. While some form of federal government agency has existed in this space since the 1930s, the Fair Work Ombudsman is a radically transformed version of its predecessors. It is therefore of significant interest.
This project is assessing the Fair Work Ombudsman by:
- investigating its operation through documentary analysis, participant observation and qualitative interviewing;
- considering the agency in light of the regulatory theory, and specifically, studies of analogous organisations in Australia, the United States, France, China and Brazil, amongst others; and
- examining employer and business responses to the activities and interventions of the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Click here for more information on this project and its associated publications.
Maximising the potential of social procurement
Melbourne Law School Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law
Melbourne Law School Construction Law
Social procurement and Indigenous procurement initiatives are on the increase at commonwealth, state and local government level in Australia.
Two key examples are the Victorian Government’s Social Procurement Framework, which commenced in 2018, and the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy, introduced in 2015.
Social procurement is when an organisation uses its purchasing power to generate social benefits, particularly around the creation of jobs, often targeted at those disadvantaged in the labour market, the stimulation of local industries, and the encouragement of environmental sustainability. Indigenous procurement is specifically targeted at supporting Indigenous-owned enterprises and the training and employment of Indigenous workers.
As our government departments and agencies at federal, state and local levels are the largest purchaser of goods, services and construction projects in Australia, the potential for public expenditure to improve social and economic outcomes through social and Indigenous procurement is extremely significant. This is evidenced by the role that social procurement is playing in stimulating economic and social recovery from the recent Australian bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
MSoG is creating partnerships with government agencies, NGOs and industry to improve the uptake and impact of social procurement initiatives. This program of work will assist government departments and agencies through:
- program evaluation
- research on measuring the value and impact of social procurement programs, optimal design of social procurement criteria, contracts and implementation mechanisms, and the impact of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth ) on procurement
- co-design of social procurement pilots and trials
- providing recommendations for improvement of existing programs or program expansion
- development of education and training programs
For this project, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to take into account the social, environmental and economic aspects of social procurement. To support this, MSoG will bring in expertise across a number of faculties and schools at the University depending on the project.
There is potential for the findings from this program of work to be adopted by other jurisdictions and countries, as well as across all levels of government.
For more information on this project please contact Professor John Howe: J.Howe@unimelb.edu.au
Governance and performance
This theme addresses three key questions:
- How do we design appropriate governing institutions?
- How do we improve policy and service effectiveness?
- How do we develop effective regulation?
- Renewing Australian Federalism
- Indigenous Nation Building: Theory; practice and its emergence in Australia's public policy discourse
- Engaging Professionals in Organisational Governance
- Developing a methodology and proposal for comparative regional research on governance and implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) health system reforms in the Asia Pacific
This theme addresses three key questions:
- How do governments, governing institutions and private actors relate to each other, and what can and should be the roles of these actors in the governance of different markets?
- What policy instruments are available to govern the different sites and spaces of market activity (formal, informal, visible and invisible), from global to local?
- What is the efficacy and impact of these policy instruments, and how can they be measured and compared?
- Financial Regulation in Asia - A new Model for Regional Cooperation
- Price transparency in Australian Petrol Markets: An interdisciplinary study of the role of Information Technology in strengthening Market Competitiveness
- The Power of the Good Corporation: Exploring the Role of Corporate Agency in Corporate Social Responsibility in Developing Countries
- The policy aftermaths of financial crises: how much space for politics
Disruptive Ideas Seminar Series
The Melbourne School of Government's disruptive ideas seminar series explores challenges to current regulation and governance approaches.
Participatory Data Governance in the Smart City
30 April 2020
Speaker: Timothy Kariotis
City, municipal and state governments are also increasingly adopting data-centric and algorithmic technologies, in what could be termed a shift to algorithmic governance. This shift poses challenges to the democratic principles of transparency, accountability and openness as well as challenges to privacy. Smart cities provide interesting case studies in the adoption of data-driven technologies in civic spaces. One of the potential solutions to concerns regarding data collection and control is the adoption of civic data trusts. Civic data trusts would see an independent trustee manage the data collected in a smart city. A core element of cities, but also of civic data trusts, is participation. This seminar explored some of the approaches to participation and participatory governance that could be applied in the design of civic data trusts.
Disruptive Ideas Seminar: Crisis Response and the Public Service
Australia strode into 2020 experiencing one of the worst bushfire seasons on record. This was rapidly followed by a global pandemic which has spiralled into a global economic crisis that the International Monetary Fund has called ‘The Great Lockdown.’ These crises have required a prompt, coordinated and sustained response from the public service at all levels of government. The current COVID-19 response has seen policies that would usually take years to draft and develop, rapidly designed in days and weeks. This panel discussed what can be done to prepare and support the Australian Public Service for future crises and to facilitate more anticipatory and rapid policy responses.
Lisa Paul AO PSM and Ben Hubbard brought their extensive experience to this critical discussion as Australia stands at the long road to recovery from both bushfire and pandemic. The panel discussion considered these issues: the role of data-driven and community lead policy-making; structures that promote collaboration, more effective preparation and resilience; and forward planning for disaster recovery.
Ben Hubbard has contributed significantly to Australian public policy and administration as Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Chief Executive Officer of the Victoria Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, and as Principal Political Adviser to the Victorian Premier. He is a self-employed consultant and Non-executive Director and he also regularly lectures at the Melbourne School of Government. Ben holds undergraduate and graduate qualifications from the University of Melbourne and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Pursuing Innovation and Protecting Privacy – Can the Public Sector Lead the Way?
14 May 2020
Speaker: James Wong
Digital technology is transforming how Australians live, work and relate. In the digital age, citizens expect more and more from government services—including with respect to the protection of their data. How can government agencies innovate while protecting privacy? How will data privacy requirements and considerations shape digital government initiatives going forward? Can the public sector be an exemplar of privacy ‘best practice’? This seminar provided an overview of current issues surrounding data privacy and digital government.