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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 126..


MR MULCAHY (continuing):

professional conduct; ethical behaviour beyond simple compliance with legal requirements, including honesty, equity, integrity and social responsibility in all dealings; and a written commitment to abide by the code and its schedules.

I am informed by the RCSA that the implementation of the code of professional practice has put an onus on employers and, in some cases, resulted in changed practices and a better level of service. If the ACT's regulations were as effective, it is possible that I would not have a problem with them, but this is simply not the case. Whereas the RCSA's trade practices authorised code compels a standard of behaviour, the ACT licensing regulations penalise businesses but achieve nothing.

The fact is that, in addition to the market forces and other heads of legislation that I have already outlined, the vast majority of business that is conducted in the ACT is undertaken by businesses that are bound by an ACCC registered code of professional practice. The code binds these companies to a far greater extent than the ACT legislation does. And this is another reason that I would urge the current government regulation and licensing requirements be repealed as they are completely unnecessary.

The code that I cited regulates the behaviour of the firms and ensures that the actions of the RCSA members are in accordance with a high standard that extends beyond simple legal requirements. The ACT licensing requirements add nothing to this situation.

I will now turn to the situation in other jurisdictions, Mr Speaker. The bill that I am presenting to the Assembly today does not ask the ACT Legislative Assembly to take any extraordinary steps. I have already detailed at length the shortcomings of the legislation as it currently stands. We are better off without it—without the regulation, that is.

Other jurisdictions have also recognised the superfluous nature of regulation of this type and have moved away from licensing requirements. Victoria, the Northern Territory and Tasmania do not have legislation regulating employment agents. New South Wales incorporates an element of regulation into the Fair Trading Act 1987 but does not impose licence requirements on agents.

Tellingly, Queensland, which does have regulation of agents, draws its inspiration from the code of professional practice that I have discussed already. As I have mentioned, this code, which covers much of the industry in the ACT, provides much more stringent regulation control than the ACT's Agents Act.

Of all jurisdictions in Australia, only Western Australia and South Australia still have regulation requiring licensing similar to that used in the ACT. Even with these jurisdictions, I understand that Western Australia's licensing system is not as broad as that existing in the Australian Capital Territory. This bill represents an opportunity for the ACT government to follow other Australian jurisdictions and to encourage rather than hinder the recruitment and employment consulting industry and enhance a business-friendly environment in this territory.

Mr Speaker, this bill gives the Assembly an opportunity to make a change that will make it easier for businesses in the employment sector to operate in the ACT. This deregulation and the removal of these nuisance licensing requirements for


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