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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4383 ..

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (10.55): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to present the Building Bill and legislation associated with it-the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Bill, the Construction Occupations Legislation Amendment Bill and the Magistrates Court (Construction Occupations Infringement Notices) Regulations. This package of legislative reforms represents a significant proposal to improve the regulation of trades in the construction industry.

I tabled exposure drafts of the principal item in this list, the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Bill, and regulations for that bill in June 2003. This was the culmination of a long process of reform that has been under way since 1998, the year when a paper discussed options for moving to a single licensing regime to cover architects, builders, electricians, plumbers, drainers and gasfitters.

Following that discussion paper, a National Competition Policy review of occupational licensing was undertaken in the year 2000. The review did not include consideration of the regulation of architects, as that profession was dealt with under a subsequent Productivity Commission report.

The previous government endorsed most of the recommendations of that review but did not proceed to implement the recommendations. This government has taken the opportunity to consider the relevance of the recommendations, given the time that has passed since the initial review. Industry and community consultation was an important element in developing this reform package.

The government has now endorsed this legislative package as it is clear that the implementation of these will produce substantial improvements in the administration and effectiveness of the licensing regime. This will clearly benefit both licensees and consumers.

The occupational licensing reform set out in the legislation will affect builders, electricians, plumbers, drainers and gasfitters, building surveyors-in other words, building certifiers-and plumbing plan certifiers. The architectural profession has not been included in the present legislation, as consultation with the profession has confirmed that there are particular issues that require consideration through a separate reform process.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I would now like to briefly outline the key reforms in the individual pieces of legislation. The Construction Occupations (Licensing) Bill creates a framework for licensing matters common to all occupations. In a jurisdiction the size of the ACT, with a unique structure of governance, we have the opportunity to be innovative when pursuing regulatory reform. Unlike some other jurisdictions, the regulation of the construction occupations is undertaken within the one organisation. This enables us to introduce a single licensing system for the occupations, which has enormous benefits, including administrative streamlining resulting in better customer service to our licensees.

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