Dris proposal for national licensing of the plumbing and gasfitting occupations

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Proposed regulated work

Specific issues raised during the policy development or submission processes concerning the proposed regulated work are outlined below. All other scopes of regulated work or definitions will remain unchanged from that proposed in the Consultation RIS.

Water service

Submissions from the National Farmers Federation and the irrigation industry identified that the current definition of ‘water service’ referenced in plumbing inadvertently captured a broader range of activities than is currently included. Currently, those definitions usually include only those connections directly or indirectly connected to the public water supply. Framed in this way, it has the unintended consequence of reserving to plumbers activities such as installation or repair to stock watering and domestic water on farms and the pump and pipework used by those working in the irrigation industry. This would increase costs for both these sectors, compared with current practices.

The scope of work has therefore been amended to explicitly exclude work on pipework or equipment used for the supply of non-drinking water for agricultural or irrigation purposes unless the water is supplied by a network utility operator or other water supplier.

Gas supply point

The regulated work of general gasfitting work includes a definition of the term ‘gas supply point’ as ‘the outlet of the cylinder or tank’. Some concerns were raised during the policy development process about the definition of gas supply point and whether it means that LPG suppliers’ truck drivers would now be able to change pigtails, a role currently the responsibility of gasfitters (for example in Queensland). As currently drafted, the proposed regulated work for general gasfitting work includes pig tails as this is the connection between a gas cylinder or tank and the first stage regulator. This means that this work is licensed work and cannot be performed by an LPG truck driver unless that person is licensed as a general gasfitter. It should be noted that an unlicensed person may connect or disconnect a gas cylinder to remove, fill or refill the cylinder but they are not able to replace the pigtail as this work can exceed 200kPa. No submissions or other consultation feedback commented on this issue, therefore it is recommended that the definition remain unchanged.

Gas Type B

The proposed gas Type B appliance work takes an approach to defining Type B gas appliances based on gas input limitation. While it was noted that a risk-based approach would be preferable, consultation with gas regulators indicated that the development of such an approach would take considerable time. A typical standards review and upgrade would take two to three years because there is currently no well-defined and nationally accepted safety risk classification system for gas Type B appliances. It was therefore not considered possible to have a risk-based approach for Type B appliances ready for the introduction of national licensing. However, this may be work that can be undertaken in the future if the benefits can be demonstrated.

The IAC did not support the need for restrictions based on type of gas as few jurisdictions currently differentiate in this way, the risks are common to all gas types and gasfitting training provides the broad skills to deal with all types of gas.

Servicing stationary engines was included in the regulated work for Type B gas appliances on the advice of the Gas Technical Regulators’ Committee. This group also suggested the inclusion of a restricted gas Type B appliance licence providing for disconnect/reconnect work to include disconnection, removal, replacement and connection of a like-for-like item. There is no national qualification for this work, and any restricted licence would need to depend on state-specific courses. It was noted that it was outside the scope of national licensing coverage of plumbing and gasfitting to regulate the general mechanical maintenance of stationary engines. The IAC did not support the need for a restricted licence but agreed that an exemption should be included for servicing a stationary engine limited to 5 G/h where the fuel supply is turned off at an isolation valve and the work does not include any work on the fuel supply source to the engine. This is therefore the approach proposed. Members noted that there is currently an inconsistency in the treatment of stationary engines using liquid gas fuels compared to vapour gas and that this is a product of different regulatory arrangements outside the scope of national licensing.


Submissions from the Master Plumbers and Mechanical Services Association Australia and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union commented that the term ‘commissioning’ was not included in the proposed definition of regulated work for all classes of plumbing and gasfitting work. The submissions stated that commissioning ‘means ensuring that the completed work operates correctly in line with its intended use’. They argued that the absence of this term was inconsistent, as commissioning was included for fire protection and gasfitter Type B appliance work and that not including it in all scopes of regulated work could potentially allow non-licensed persons to perform this work. A survey of definitions in current legislation indicated that this term is not used in a number of jurisdictions however, based on the concerns outlined, this activity will be explicitly included in all scopes of regulated work, and a definition included in the Amendment Bill, to ensure consistency. It is noted that New South Wales considered the inclusion of the word commissioning unnecessary as it is deemed to be included in the scope of work of the person responsible for the work.


Stormwater work has not been included as part of the regulated drainage work. There was strong support from New South Wales and Queensland for its exclusion from the scope of work of a drainer. Currently, stormwater is not licensed as plumbing or drainage work in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory but rather is classified as building work. Only two jurisdictions, Victoria and Tasmania, regulate stormwater as part of plumbing or drainage work.

The steering committee agreed that the licensing of stormwater would be deferred pending consideration in conjunction with the work examining the building occupations in national licensing, at which time those jurisdictions that regulate the work under plumbing will be involved. The deferral was strongly supported by the Queensland Building Services Authority as it indicated that any expansion of plumbing work to include stormwater has major implications for the approximately 63,000 builders in that state that would need to be transitioned to national licensing with a plumbing licence restricted to stormwater under the no disadvantage principle.

A high number of the form letter responses wanted stormwater drainage to be included in plumbing work and for there to be no deferral in its consideration, and noted that the work is included in plumbing work in the national training package. It was not possible to consider this suggestion at this time as including it in the regulated work of plumbing would reserve the work to plumbers and necessitate builders who are able to do this work in six jurisdictions requiring a separate plumbing licence to be able to continue to operate. This would be a major change to existing arrangements and would have significant impact on business.

There appeared to be a misconception by some respondents that there was an intention to change current arrangements and deregulate stormwater work. This is not the case. The steering committee decision, reflected in the Consultation RIS, was that jurisdictions which currently regulated stormwater work as plumbing work would continue to do so following the introduction of national licensing for plumbing. In those jurisdictions where this work is regulated as building work, this would also continue unchanged. It is expected that, when this issue is considered under the building occupations, discussions with plumbing representatives and building industry representatives will occur to agree the best way to regulate this work that does not disadvantage existing licensees.

During the policy development process there was support from the IAC for an exemption for an individual who was an employee or contractor of an entity that was responsible for the provision of water or sewerage or stormwater services, who is carrying out regulated work on the entity’s infrastructure. This has been included as an exemption under the National Law.

Roof plumbing

Roof plumbing work is work on flashings and any part of a roof drainage system to ground level. It is regulated as plumbing work in Victoria and Tasmania only. This has not been considered as part of regulated plumbing or drainage work at this time as there are potential overlaps with roof covering work which is undertaken by builders in all other states and territories. The steering committee agreed that, similar to the treatment of stormwater work, the licensing of roof plumbing would not be changed from current arrangements at this time and would be deferred pending further consideration. A high number of submissions received, including those from six state Master Plumbers’ Associations, wanted roof plumbing to be included in plumbing work and for there to be no deferral in its consideration. It was not possible to adopt this suggestion as including it in the regulated work of plumbing would reserve the work to plumbers and have major impacts on other occupations. Examination of this will occur in conjunction with work on national licensing for the building occupations.

Design and construction

The words ‘design’ and ‘construction’ were not included in the scopes of work for plumbing, sanitary plumbing, draining and fire protection as only Victoria currently uses these terms in its scope of work descriptors. Very few submissions commented on this, and no new evidence was provided to indicate the need for inclusion. No change is envisaged to this proposal.


In the Consultation RIS, it was proposed that ducting not be licensed, as it was low-risk work. Jurisdictions, such as Queensland, that currently regulate ducting, supported it not being included in national licensing although the preference of Victoria was to include it in plumbing licensing. Given the lack of strong arguments for any changes and the low number of submissions in this area, it is not proposed that ducting be included in the scope of mechanical services work or as a restricted licence, however it may be included in the discussion of wave two occupations.

Work on fire equipment

The installation and maintenance of different types of fire equipment e.g. hose reels, hydrants, sprinklers, pump sets were not considered to warrant a separate licence category as they were considered to be adequately encompassed within the broader regulated work of other proposed categories such as the full fire protection licence or the newly proposed restricted licence for the inspection and testing of fire equipment.

Queensland Fire Protection Framework

Queensland has the most comprehensive fire protection licensing framework of all the jurisdictions, developed in response to the Palace Backpackers Hostel fire in Childers in 2000. The framework extends beyond the inspection of water-based systems to the inspection, testing and certification of fire protection systems within buildings. It also covers such items as fire doors and shutters and emergency lighting. The framework’s extensive nature will necessarily be discussed and considered as part of the policy development for the building occupations.

As the proposed fire protection licence (at the levels of contractor, (full) licensee and tradesperson registration) will only partly cover the existing Queensland framework, jurisdictional representatives point out that Queensland fire protection licensing will be dually regulated at both the state and national level for some activities. For example:

Water-based fire protection work will require a national licence (excluding water-based special hazard suppression work which is outside the scope of the national licence).

Five Queensland ‘certify’ licences involve inspecting and testing of plumbing work (for the purposes of certification of the fire protection system in a building). However, inspecting and testing is proposed to become a restricted licence which does not explicitly include certification. This could mean that a person undertaking this work in Queensland could require both a Queensland ‘certify’ licence and a national licence, if Queensland chose to continue separate regulation of certification, unless a state-specific exemption was applied.

During the policy development process, the word ‘certification’ was removed from the scope of the regulated work in favour of the term ‘ensuring technical compliance’ of work. Queensland has indicated that it will continue to license certification work separately as ‘the Queensland certify licence is substantively broader than ‘ensuring technical compliance’’.

Medical gases

Medical gases are those gases usually used in hospitals or other health venues in medical procedures. Victoria is the only jurisdiction to licence medical gases, which it does as part of mechanical services plumbing. Tasmania currently exempts those undertaking medical gas work from the requirement to be licensed. While other jurisdictions do not licence medical gas work, they do regulate it under health legislation or through codes of practice for dangerous goods. As licensing of this activity is not widespread, there is an opportunity to deregulate or more consistently regulate this activity across jurisdictions. During the consultation process, a number of industry representatives argued for the inclusion of this activity as licensed activity due to perceived dangers to health from faulty or contaminated supply processes. Little rationale has been provided, however, to support the need for licensing of this work rather than the alternative regulatory mechanisms used by most other jurisdictions. It is therefore not proposed to include medical gas work under mechanical services or as a separate endorsement.

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