The federal government is moving ahead with the introduction of occupational licensing on 1 July, 2021.

In simple terms, the latest reforms would allow a person who holds an occupational licence in their home state to carry out the same activities in another state without having to formally apply for registration. 

Unlike previous attempts at national licensing reform, Automatic Mutual Recognition recognises a practitioners’ competency at the activity level, rather than the occupational level. 

The Prime Minister’s Deregulation Taskforce has introduced draft changes to occupational mutual recognition laws to improve the mobility of workers, reduce costs to business, and provide increased flexibility to both practitioners and employers.

While the Air Conditioning Mechanical Contractors Association (AMCA) has expressed overall support for the reforms, it has also cautioned against a blanket implementation for all licence types.

“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,” AMCA CEO, Scott Williams said.

“However, we encourage governments in all jurisdictions to distinguish between occupational licences and contractor licences when implementing and administering the scheme.”

In its submission AMCA has listed six recommendations and made it clear it supports an occupational licence for individuals and a separate contractor licence for companies.

One of AMCA’s recommendations is for occupational licence holders to work under the supervision of a contractor licence holder.

Currently registration and licensing requirements vary significantly across jurisdictions with some scopes of work entirely unregulated and in other states over regulated.

For example, a mechanical services contractor licence holder in Queensland would need plumber’s liability insurance to perform the same scope of work in Victoria. This type of insurance is unique to Victoria and unlikely to be issued to individuals without a Victorian licence.

The government released a discussion paper outlining the scope of the Exposure Draft Bill which stated that an individual registered under the mutual recognition scheme will not be required to pay extra fees to undertake work in the second state.

Occupational licence holders seeking to work in another jurisdiction should notify regulators before commencing, AMCA said.

In the absence of formal registration in the host jurisdiction, AMCA supports the implementation of a notification system to capture up to date contact information allowing regulators to establish communications lines with new practitioners.

AMCA also wants regulators to maintain records of practitioners working in their jurisdiction under mutual recognition laws.

“In our view, the competency of occupational licence holders at the activity level is sufficiently capable of being recognised across jurisdictions that have existing formal registration systems in place,” Williams said.

“AMCA welcomes any move by government to reduce red tape and lower the cost of doing business.”

More than 160,000 workers will benefit from these reforms.

Modelling undertaken by PwC shows automatic mutual recognition would lead to an additional $2.4 billion in economic activity over the next 10 years.


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