Decision ris proposal for national licensing of the property occupations

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General policy context

In July 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to wide-ranging regulatory reform to increase Australia’s productivity and provide the environment for a seamless national economy. National licensing is one of 27 key areas for reform being overseen by the Business, Regulation and Competition Working Group, which is co-chaired by Commonwealth ministers and has state and territory representation through senior officials.

Many of the challenges facing the economy can only be addressed through more coordinated regulatory arrangements. The COAG reforms aim to provide a more streamlined, consistent and targeted regulatory environment across Australia, reducing inefficiencies and duplication, removing red tape and facilitating flexible and productive operating conditions for businesses and workers across Australia. These reforms have the potential to make life simpler for businesses and consumers, while continuing to provide the necessary protections and access for consumers and the community. National licensing is one of 27 key areas for regulatory reform agreed in 2008, the majority of which have now been implemented. Implementation of the remaining reforms, including national licensing, is being overseen by the Business Advisory Forum Taskforce, which is composed of senior state and territory officials.

There is no consistent national licensing approach to work categories or occupations in Australia. Each state and territory uses a separate licensing approach, with different licence categories, scope of regulated work and eligibility requirements. This hinders labour mobility across Australia and increases the regulatory burden for licensees and government. Attachment D contains an overview of the current regulatory approach.

COAG agreed to develop a national licensing system with the following characteristics:

cooperative national legislation

national governance arrangements to manage standard setting and policy issues and to ensure consistent administrative and compliance practices

all current holders of state and territory licences deemed across to the new licence system at its commencement

the establishment of a publicly available national register of licensees and former licensees

no legislative role for the Commonwealth in the establishment of the new system.

National licensing would initially be considered for four occupational areas, which were chosen based on the following selection criteria:

at least one critical area of the occupation licensed across all jurisdictions

subject to the work on achieving full and effective mutual recognition

their importance to the economy in terms of level of demand, intrinsic mobility and number of licensees

the volume and nature of mutual recognition difficulties.

The four occupational areas are:


plumbing and gasfitting

property (excluding conveyancers and valuers)

refrigeration and air-conditioning

The development of a national licensing system was endorsed by the states and territories in April 2009 by the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement for a National Licensing System for Specified Occupations (the Intergovernmental Agreement).

The implementation strategy of the 2009 decision foreshadowed further research and consultation to inform more detailed arrangements regarding the implementation of national licensing for each of the occupations identified. Policy development work was undertaken from 2009-2011 and culminated in a number of options for national licensing, which were included in the Consultation Regulation Impact Statements (RISs) for each of the occupations identified and released for public comment between July and August 2012.

The objective of this Decision RIS is to consider feedback received on the options proposed in the Consultation RIS and any further information that has come to light, and to recommend a preferred national licensing option that provides the highest net benefit to the community, taking into account all the impacts.

National licensing is a threshold reform. It sets in place national licensing eligibility requirements and the related disciplinary framework as the first step in developing a comprehensive national licensing scheme that could, once fully developed, encompass the requirements for both obtaining a licence and the behaviour and standards (conduct) required to maintain a licence.

Details on the policy development process undertaken, together with the objectives and principles which underpinned the work, and the advisory mechanisms used are provided at Attachment E.

The behaviours and standards (conduct) to be met by licensees are not currently part of the proposed national occupational licensing reform. A separate reform to potentially harmonise conduct requirements, commencing with property occupations, is being considered by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs (formerly the Ministerial Council for Consumer Affairs). The full benefits of a proposed national licensing system would be realised if this further reform were undertaken.

1.The Occupational Licensing National Law Act 2010

The Occupational Licensing National Law Act 2010 (National Law) has been passed in six jurisdictions (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory) to establish national licensing. This Act is national framework legislation that seeks to establish national licensing.

The Bill passed Western Australia’s Legislative Assembly on 24 November 2010 and was referred to the Western Australia Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and Statutes Review. The committee did not support the Bill in its current form, and Western Australia will consider its position on the passage of the Bill based on agreement of a preferred model in the Decision RIS.

The Australian Capital Territory has reserved its right not to implement national licensing if the costs to the Territory outweigh the benefits.

The National Law provides the high-level framework for national licensing policy and regulations. A copy of the National Law can be found on the NOLA website at

During the policy development process, it became clear that some amendments to the National Law will be required. The release of the draft Amendment Bill and draft regulations coincided with the release of the Consultation RIS for the four occupations and public comment was sought on the package.

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