Page 123 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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Wednesday, 13 February 2008

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Agents Amendment Bill 2008

Mr Mulcahy, pursuant to notice, presented the bill.

Title read by Clerk.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (10.31): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I introduce the Agents Act Amendment Bill 2008. This bill, if supported, will deregulate the employment agency industry in the ACT. It will do this by removing references within the Agents Act to employment agents. At present the Agents Act requires employment agents to be licensed. Despite this requirement, the provisions that this bill seeks to amend achieve little by way of regulation of the industry.

The change I am proposing will allow employment agents in Canberra to continue to operate just as they do now in the highly competitive market without facing attempted government regulation that really does not achieve anything at all. This is not a drastic measure. The current licensing requirements do not provide any useful regulation for the industry but, instead, result in a costly, cumbersome process that is adhered to by some in the industry but ignored by many others.

A bureaucratic layer of licensing is not necessary in the recruitment and employment consultancy industry. I have been informed by industry that it does not alter the way that they operate and, aside from the inconvenience and cost of compliance with bureaucratic red tape, has little impact on businesses.

Employment agents operate in a service industry. This in itself mitigates the need for regulation. If an individual were to operate or conduct themselves in an unsavoury manner they would certainly not last long in this highly competitive industry. Competitors in the industry rely upon attracting clients, both workers and employers, and as such must conduct themselves in a professional manner.

In trend terms, unemployment, as the Chief Minister boasted in his December media release, in the ACT was just 2.4 per cent in December last year. I think it has come down since then. This is hardly the environment in which competitors would seek to operate to the detriment of either employees or employers.

In a town where the unemployment rate is just 2.4 per cent, the employment market is highly competitive. With such low levels of unemployment, employment agencies still compete to attract both employers seeking workers but, even more so, compete for individuals to fill those vacancies. They can scarcely afford to behave in anything

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