Decision ris proposal for national licensing of the property occupations

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Government objectives for reform

COAG has agreed to pursue wide-ranging regulatory reform to create a seamless national economy to enhance Australia’s longer-term growth, through reducing costs incurred by business in complying with unnecessary and inconsistent regulation across jurisdictions, to improve workforce participation and overall labour mobility. A key part of achieving this objective is to address the deficiencies in the current approach to licensing in Australia by developing national licensing for certain occupational areas. Under this reform, national licences would be issued by NOLA through delegated agencies in the states and territories and would allow licensees to operate in all Australian jurisdictions without having to apply for another licence or pay an additional fee.

The national licensing system will involve certain occupational and associated business licensing in the following initial occupational areas and is to be introduced in two waves:

first wave: electrical, plumbing and gasfitting, property, and refrigeration and air-conditioning

second wave: building and building-related occupations, valuers and conveyancers.

COAG has agreed that, under national licensing, the first wave of licenses will be settled by 2013, with the second wave occupations to follow. National licensing would have the capacity to extend to other licensed occupations over time and provide a platform on which further harmonisation of state-based licensing arrangements, such as conduct requirements, could be considered.

The move to a national licensing system was initially agreed by COAG in the Intergovernmental Agreement signed in April 2009. Since then, arrangements for the National Law have been implemented in most jurisdictions (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory) to establish the national licensing system.

Western Australia will consider its position on the passage of the Bill as a part of implementing national licensing arrangements. The Australian Capital Territory has reserved its right not to implement national licensing if the costs to the Territory outweigh the benefits.

A copy of the National Law can be found on the national licensing website (

The principles on which the work has been undertaken are based on COAG’s Principles of Best Practice Regulation2 and incorporated in the Intergovernmental Agreement. These state that licensing arrangements should be effective and proportional to that required for consumer protection and worker and public health and safety, while ensuring economic efficiency and equity of access.

Property occupations are important to the economy

The property industry in Australia includes a large number of property occupations, such as real estate agents, business agents, strata managers, property managers and auctioneers.3 In 2012–13, the industry is expected to generate revenue of $8.9 billion, the majority of which is derived from residential sales (56.4 per cent), with revenue from residential property management and non-residential property sales being the next largest contributors.4

Based on information provided by jurisdictional regulators, there are over 118,000 property licensees across Australia, as shown in Table ES.1. Approximately 80 per cent of licences are issued in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Further information on the property industry is available in Attachment B.

Table ES.1: Number of existing licensees per jurisdiction and nationally, as of March 2012

Number of property licensees










Total existing licensees










Percentage of national










Note: These figures do not reflect the total workforce of the property occupations’ for some jurisdictions where some property occupations are not licensed (see Attachment D for an overview of current licensed categories).

Options considered

The options considered for the licensing of property occupations were as follows:

Option 1: National licensing

Under this option:

There would be a single policy approach to licence categories, scopes of regulated work and the eligibility requirements to obtain a licence. This would allow a person to work anywhere in Australia where the relevant work is licensed without having to reapply for a licence or pay any additional fee.

A national licensing register would be established.

Option 2: Automatic mutual recognition

Under this option:

Each jurisdiction would continue to issue licences against existing jurisdictional categories and associated scopes of work but with these licences being recognised by all states and territories without the licensee having to reapply for a licence or pay an additional fee. Recognition would be restricted to those licences where equivalency has been declared.

Mutual recognition arrangements would be enhanced so that licensees would no longer have to apply for a licence in multiple jurisdictions. Licences would be recognised by every other state and territory without the licensee having to reapply for a licence or pay an additional fee.

There would be opportunity over time to move towards a ‘harmonised set of categories’ or for jurisdictions to deregulate areas identified as unnecessary.

Option 3: Status quo – Under this option:

  • There would be no changes to existing licensing and mutual recognition arrangements. This option has not been costed. The options above are costed relative to the status quo, not the cost of operating the reforms.

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