Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4384 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The new legislation will maintain the present levels of qualification as a condition of entry to the licensed occupations and will provide more effective forms of enforcement
against licensees who do not work in accordance with approved standards. The government supports, Mr Deputy Speaker, the principle of making occupational licensing consistent across the states and territories, and the qualifications relate, as far as possible, to standard training programs.
The bill also establishes advisory panels to replace the statutory boards that have administrative responsibilities under current legislation. While the current arrangements provide for an Electrical Licensing Board and a Plumbers, Drainers and Gasfitters Board, the other trades covered by this bill do not at present have boards. The proposed arrangement provides a consistent approach to the provision of advice and mandatory qualifications for licensed applicants. There can be advisory boards established for each construction occupation or for a combination of occupations. Mr Deputy Speaker, in addition to advice on qualifications for a construction occupation, the advisory boards will also assist in disciplinary proceedings and inquiries and prepare codes of practice for the occupations for which they are responsible.
The bill creates a statutory position of Construction Occupations Registrar, responsible for administering the licensing act and operational legislation. This includes assessing applications for new and renewed licences against prescribed criteria and administering the disciplinary process with assistance, as necessary, from the relevant advisory board. The registrar is also able to appoint deputy registrars for each occupation.
Perhaps the most significant reform contained within this legislative package is the creation of more flexible and effective forms of disciplinary action against delinquent licence holders. This includes a new demerit points system for licensees and the capacity to issue infringement notices under the Magistrates Court Act 1930 against unlicensed persons who do work requiring a licence. The demerit points system will ensure that licensed persons are held accountable for the work that they undertake, by providing an effective sanction against persistent breaches, particularly where that work is not in accordance with approved standards.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the infringement notice system will enable on-the-spot fines to be administered where unlicensed persons are found to be doing work requiring a licence or where licensed persons undertake work not allowed under their licence. The introduction of the demerit points system and of infringement notices addresses significant shortcomings in the present regulatory system.
The occupational licensing legislation includes a new disclosure of insurance provision that requires all licensed construction practitioners to disclose what insurance they hold prior to undertaking any work for a customer. There is no change in requirements for construction practitioners who are building certifiers to hold professional indemnity insurance or for those who are builders to take out insurance each time they do residential building work. The only insurance that is no longer mandatory is the public liability insurance currently required by one occupational group, electrical contractors.
This change implements the recommendation of the National Competition Policy review that this insurance should not be compulsory. However, the new disclosure-of-insurance