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The Australian Mechanical Contractors' Association (AMCA) has raised concerns about the ambitious timeframe proposed by the federal government for occupational licensing.

Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has announced plans to introduce a national framework for occupational licensing from January 1, 2021.

While AMCA has welcomed plans to better recognise trade practitioners across jurisdictions, the industry body has also called on governments at all levels not to rush the implementation.

AMCA CEO, Scott Williams, said any move by government to reduce red tape and lower the costs of doing business should be applauded.

“But, we caution against a hasty implementation that would diminish quality standards and put the health and safety of building occupants at risk,” Williams said.

Currently, registration and licensing requirements vary significantly across jurisdictions, with some scopes of work entirely unregulated, while others are subject to strict requirements that reflect their level of specialisation.

“Even in jurisdictions where trade disciplines—for example, mechanical services plumbing and refrigerated air conditioning—share similar scopes of work, the qualification and experience requirements are different,” he said.

“As a result, the specific competencies of trade practitioners operating in different states and territories can vary significantly, despite the fact that the scope of work appears to be the same. 

“The AMCA supports, in principle, the move towards a national framework that would allow individuals who hold an occupational licence in one jurisdiction to undertake equivalent work in another jurisdiction under that licence.

“But we are concerned with the ambitious, 1 January 2021, timeframe, as it doesn’t provide much time to work through all necessary considerations.”

Williams said previous attempts towards national occupational licensing failed because of an inclination towards the recognition of lower standards of competency.”

“Given the concerns raised about building quality in the Building Confidence Report, it is critical that a uniform scheme of recognition is complimentary with achieving better quality outcomes in the building industry,” he said.

“Having said that, we recognise the potential benefits that could be derived by practitioners, business and the broader community from a more efficient and consistent licensing scheme across Australia.

“As a result, we are motivated and ready to work with all levels of government and other industry stakeholders to achieve the best possible outcome.”  

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