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New Minister says yes to mutual recognition

3 June 2014

The Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox has announced the introduction of the Mutual Recognition (Automatic Licensed Occupations Recognition) Bill 2014.

New to his position, Mr Mason-Cox has fast-tracked legislation that never progressed with his predecessors. Although the new Bill does not include the real estate profession, it enables certain licensed occupations, such as electricians, to carry out their trade in NSW on the basis of the licence they hold in their home State.

Mr Mason-Cox said the Bill proposes a low cost model for labour mobility, which will make it easier to do business in NSW and drive economic growth in regional border communities.

“Business drives the economy and by removing unnecessary business regulation and costs we can boost our economy, drive down costs for consumers, support job creation and lift productivity.

“Automatic mutual recognition supports our tradespeople and small businesses living in border communities. It places consumer protection and business needs at the forefront, ensuring that only appropriately qualified people perform work while removing the need to hold two licences to do the same work.”

Mutual recognition for property professionals

While the Bill does not cover real estate licensing, mutual recognition is something that REINSW has been supportive of in the past.

“If mutual recognition came back on the agenda REINSW would support it, but we would insist on increased entry-level education and increased educational requirements for ongoing professional development,” Mr McKibbin said.

“REINSW suggests that a real estate agent who is seeking the equivalent Licence or Certificate in another jurisdiction be initially recognised under the principles of mutual recognition, and then be required to undertake mandatory training to acquaint themselves with the unique regulatory and cultural aspects of that jurisdiction.

“This ensures agents are cognisant of any unique practice requirements attaching to the particular jurisdiction and additionally provides protection for the consumer.”

Reducing red tape

The Bill includes a number of Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) recommendations which will reduce red tape for tradespeople and the business community.

IPART's Draft Report recommends abolishing licences for travel agents and air-conditioning and refrigeration tradespeople. The report also recommends the removal of continuing professional development requirements for home building licence and certificate holders.

Mr Mason-Cox said the removal of ‘red tape’ will save the Government $8 million and the worker between $100 and $500 annually.

“The reforms will benefit small businesses and the wider community by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens”, Mr Mason-Cox said.

“Again, the Government and regulatory body seem to be suggesting that less education best and continued professional development is seen as red tape,” Mr McKibbin said.

“REINSW is committed to increasing the education component for entry into the profession and needs to support mandatory continuing professional development of agents once they have entered the industry.”

REINSW will lodge a formal submission to Fair Trading later in the month in relation to the proposed amendments to the IPART Report.