Page 902 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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Construction Occupations Legislation Amendment Bill 2006

Debate resumed from 16 February 2006, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.25): The opposition will be supporting this legislation today. As stated in the explanatory statement, this bill amends a number of pieces of legislation which relate to the licensing and disciplinary regime for construction occupations, including building certifiers and plumbing plan certifiers. The main objectives of the bill are to amend certain laws and regulations relating to the licensing and disciplinary regime for construction occupations to improve the functioning of the laws and incorporate certain new initiatives, some of which are being adopted at a national level.

The bill also improves wording and clarifies certain provisions in the laws. As part of this process I have consulted with industry, particularly with the Master Builders Association and the Master Plumbers Association. Generally speaking, the industry is happy with the proposed amendments and is satisfied with the consultative process that has occurred. As such, most of the amendments reflect industry wishes.

The bill provides some necessary amendments to the current legislation. The concept behind the original COLA legislation was to regularise and reform the licensing process, something the industry is largely in agreement with. This bill anticipates the adoption of national standards, and no-one disputes the commonsense behind that. I am pleased to see that the role of an irrigation plumber has been recognised. I support the amendments relating to disciplinary procedures, including the clarification of procedures for the registrar of Construction Occupations in issuing rectification orders and disciplinary notices. The Master Plumbers Association was supportive of the creation of the separate category of irrigation plumber. This provision should benefit consumers, who will have more options in hiring labour to install irrigation systems.

The disciplinary procedures as amended by this bill allow for a licensee to respond to matters in a disciplinary notice and for the registrar to hold an inquiry. The registrar can choose not to hold an inquiry, but if he chooses not to do so then he cannot take disciplinary action against the licensee who has sought an inquiry. This offers a fairer approach to the process. In fact, a constituent who would have benefited had this provision been in place a few months ago approached me a few days ago. He feels that he did not receive natural justice. Hopefully this provision will avoid a repetition of that situation, which has unfortunately ended up in the AAT, in the future.

I also support the amendments which protect partners who can prove that they were not involved or could not prevent a contravention by the partnership. I think this is a sensible amendment. It recognises the nature of modern partnerships and recognises that innocent partners can sometimes suffer because of the actions of other partners. I note that this is not the case in other pieces of legislation. I believe Mr Mulcahy will touch on that later. In short, the bill provides for sensible amendments to the existing legislation. It is supported by the industry and should be progressed—that is why we will be supporting it.

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