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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 812..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

trust that peers who give their industry a tarnished image will be dealt with appropriately.

The Scrutiny of Bills Committee raised the issue of accountability in relation to the discretionary powers of the Construction Occupations Registrar. The committee recommended that, where discretionary powers exist, care should be given to ensuring that there is sufficient definition of the scope of those powers. There is merit in this observation. As a result of that recommendation, key provisions within the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Bill have been identified that would benefit from greater clarity.

I will be moving amendments to include criteria that the registrar must consider prior to making decisions to endorse a building licence for specialist building work or endorse plumbing licences for backflow prevention work. I will also be moving amendments to include factors that the registrar must take into consideration before making a rectification order or deciding whether to take disciplinary action against the licensee, and what that disciplinary action should be.

The Scrutiny of Bills Committee made a number of other recommendations with which the government has agreed. I will also be moving amendments to address most of those matters. I will not, however, be moving an amendment to remove the capacity of the registrar, as a disciplinary action, to impose a financial penalty of not more than $1,000. As I stated in my response to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, the capacity for the registrar to issue a financial penalty is considered appropriate as there may be circumstances where it provides the registrar with an appropriate alternative to suspension of a licence. The purpose of disciplinary action is to place sanctions on the licensee commensurate with the seriousness of the breach.

The issuing of a penalty clearly applies to the licensee without penalty to existing clients, particularly if the circumstances indicate that public safety or consumer protection is not compromised by allowing the licensee to continue to provide construction services. Appropriate safeguards around the reasonable application of any or a combination of disciplinary actions is provided through the appeal mechanisms to the AAT.

In conclusion, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the committee for their timely consideration of such a large legislative package. I value the input of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee to the legislative process and appreciate their role in ensuring the quality of the legislative reforms that come before the Assembly. One of the significant outcomes of this legislative reform will be the capacity to more effectively deal with people who the industry describes as cowboys. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Assembly voted-

Ayes 8

Noes 5

Mr Berry

Ms MacDonald

Mr Cornwell

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Corbell

Mr Quinlan

Mrs Cross

Ms Dundas

Ms Tucker

Mrs Dunne

Mr Hargreaves

Mr Wood

Mr Pratt

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