Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 300 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
If a building owner wants absolute confidence in the reliability of the person installing their security system, then they can use a licensed locksmith. However, many building owners and tenants would not believe that this level of confidence is worth paying extra for. I can see that there is some inconsistency in exempting certain security activities from the bill, but I understand that what is being done makes us consistent with other jurisdictions and does not represent a change from the status quo.
Finally, locksmiths expressed concerns that office staff may have to be licensed, whereas they do not now need to be. On my reading of the bill, clause 13, which relates to employee licences, makes it clear that licences will not be needed for office staff of security firms.
For these reasons, I do not think that the locksmiths will be any worse off as a result of the passage of this bill; in fact, they will be slightly better off due to a reduction in licence fees. I support this bill, mainly because it brings us into line with New South Wales, thus reducing unnecessary confusion about the laws that apply to the industry which operates across borders.
MS TUCKER (12.04): As members have already outlined, this bill establishes a mandatory licensing scheme and fills in some gaps in the previous five codes of practice which applied to this industry. We also have had representations from people in the industry and, as Ms Dundas outlined, their concerns included: double licensing fees; a sense of unfairly tilting the industry, as locksmiths are required to be licensed but builders can install locks without a licence; and nothing being mentioned on cooperation between police and the security industry. Also, the New South Wales department is reviewing the legislation on which this bill is modelled.
I understand these concerns. Licensing fees, however, have been an issue for some time. I understand that the government has attempted to work with the New South Wales government to work out some regional fee. Also, we have been told that in some cases the ACT fee is more than the New South Wales fee. These fees will be disallowable instruments and we will watch to see what is resolved. The final national scheme with one fee makes sense in border areas such as the ACT.
With security guards being given more roles-for instance, in the courts by filling the gaps left by the removal of police from these areas-it is important that the basic requirements applying to security guards include scrutiny and quality control.
I originally understood we would not be debating this bill until the April sittings and I am not completely satisfied about the outcome of all the concerns. But as Mr Stefaniak has indicated, we will be watching the New South Wales review.
MRS CROSS (12.06): This bill has been introduced by the Attorney-General with the stated intention of regulating the ACT security industry, and about time. Thank you for doing that, Mr Stanhope. I have been lobbied by the security industry for about three years since my days on the executive of the Phillip Traders Association. People with security businesses in that area had, and still have, grave concerns. It is good to see that this government has initiated this bill.