Tradies holding an occupational licence could have their licensing credentials automatically recognised in all states and territories from January 1, 2021.

The proposal for automatic mutual recognition is part of am ambitious national reform agenda announced by the Federal Government this week.

Automatic mutual recognition is intended to address impediments to labour mobility across jurisdictions by allowing individuals who hold an occupational licence in one Australian jurisdiction to undertake equivalent work in another jurisdiction under that licence.

Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) CEO, Glenn Evans, said automatic mutual recognition should make it easier and less expensive for businesses and tradespeople to operate across borders.

He said ARC has contributed to discussions with the Federal Government about the proposal which had its genesis back in 2014 under the National Occupational Licence Scheme (NOLS).

Although NOLS did not go ahead the Productivity Commission completed a report on mutual recognition in 2015 which led to the current proposal.

The framework for automatic mutual recognition is being developed by the Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR) which comes under the new National Federation Reform Council which has replaced the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

CFFR is expected to report to Cabinet in October, 2020.

“The timing of this announcement sits well in support Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19,” Evans said.

“It also aligns with actions we are taking to identify opportunities for advancing recognition of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry, and national competency-based licensing.”

Announcing details of a uniform licensing scheme, Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said it would make it easier and less expensive for businesses, professionals and workers to move or operate across Australia and would help create jobs, increase output and bring down prices for consumers and businesses.

"This will especially assist our tradies to apply their craft around the country without having to get individual licences in each state or territory if they are working across borders," Frydenberg said.

"This reform sees federal, state and territory governments working co-operatively together to get people back to work as restrictions are eased and our economy reopens."

The NFFR includes representatives from the Australian Local Government Association and the Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR) which is made up of federal and state treasurers.

The treasurers are expected to be the engine room for federation reform. They have been tasked with rationalising the plethora of national funding agreements that divvy up $127 billion of funds across a wide group of portfolios and functions.

There are more than 800 different licences in manual trades alone with these reforms aiming to remove duplication, cost-shifting and complex funding arrangements.


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