When does the government need to give up on the $6 billion industry?

AUSTRALIA’S top consumer-protection regulator has suggested the Federal Government should drop its opposition to the industrial piercing jewelry industry, warning the industry has already made billions in profit and is “still in a position of strength”.

The Industry Council of Australia (ICA) warned the industry’s “highly leveraged structure” would be the “primary risk” of any Government intervention.

Industry advocates say there is already a $6.6 billion market for industrial piercing and dental implants and the current regulations on the industry are too restrictive.

In July, the Federal Treasurer announced $2.5 billion in funding for the industry, which has a turnover of more than $5 billion.

“The industry’s continued strength has led to billions in investment and a strong retail market, which is also in an excellent position to withstand the introduction of any restrictions,” the Industry Council said in its submission to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on Tuesday.

The industry has long argued that the regulation is too restrictive and has said it is unlikely any new restrictions would come into effect.

ICA chief executive officer John Worsley said the industry was already operating in a “strong position” to survive any Government action, adding the industry needed to remain “vulnerable”.

“There is still a strong industry presence in Australia, but the regulatory landscape has changed,” Mr Worsleys said.

Mr Worsers said the government’s position was “not going to be a good position for the future of the industry”.

“The Australian Industry Group, which represents the industry and represents some of its key stakeholders, is already in a strong position, but it’s a position that’s not sustainable,” he said.

“We believe that the industry will be vulnerable to any Government policy that will further erode its strength, its position and its profitability.”

The Government’s proposed regulations would apply to dental and industrial piercing implants and would require manufacturers to pay a 5 per cent GST to the Government.

Companies could apply to be exempt from the levy by submitting a proposal that would include “a reasonable explanation” for why they are exempt.

However, the industry is not yet ready to provide any evidence of how much the Government is going to pay.

But Industry Council president Chris Tompkins said the Government should not be “stoking the fires” of concern and warned that it would “have no choice” but to make its position known.

He said there were more than 70,000 people working in the industry.

Labor said it was also “not pleased” that the Industry Development Authority (IDA) would not be providing an explanation to Parliament of its position.

IDA chief director Scott Smith said the agency was “taking the position that the Government must provide clear evidence that there are sufficient safeguards to ensure that the proposed regulations are in the public interest”.

“There’s already a strong regulatory environment in Australia and it would be inappropriate for the Government to continue to impose burdens on a industry that is already operating to the detriment of Australians,” Mr Smith said.

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