Page 124 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008
but a professional way or they run a very serious risk of having their business disregarded and inevitably facing failure.
It is, unfortunately, historically typical of the approach of successive ACT governments that it was felt necessary to have oversight over so many aspects of the business community in the ACT. Business—and I extend this comment beyond the recruitment industry—does not need to be micromanaged by government. We have moved light years ahead of the days of the NCDC where the town was treated like an infant child, being managed from sunrise to sunset. We need to move on in terms of our approach to business and regulation and, to this end, it should not be subject to meaningless licensing and regulation procedures that accomplish nothing beyond inconvenience, expense and wasted energy.
Partly, I am sure, this attitude is driven by a traditional mistrust of business. Our business is not trusted to operate independently, and so governments seek to impose themselves over every move the business community makes. In my experience, this approach is really not necessary and hinders rather than helps business and the community.
I am, of course, not so naive as to think that we can rely totally on the market alone to regulate behaviour in the community. And that is why we have developed a comprehensive system of laws to protect individuals, and indeed we pass new laws every time this Assembly sits. It is not only the market that ensures that the recruitment industry conducts itself in a responsible manner or in a reasonable manner; for example, most of the commercial dealings engaged in by recruitment agencies and employment consultancy groups are covered by other heads of law like the Fair Trading (Consumer Affairs) Act.
Mr Speaker, market forces and other heads of law mean that this additional level of bureaucracy is not needed to regulate this industry and serves no useful purpose. The cost of this superfluous regulation is $560 per licence. The cost is compounded by the fact that many firms require multiple licences. I am informed, for example, that one leading recruitment firm, because it has eight incorporated entities, requires eight separate licences to operate in the territory. I really cannot see any rationale for layer upon layer of licences within a single grouped entity to exist. It is another example of the absurdity of this regulation. The actual cost to a company, when the time spent on compiling the necessary documentation is considered, is much greater of course than the $560 fee required per licence by the territory government.
Certainly the inconvenience faced by businesses that comply is considerable. I will give an example that highlights the absurdity of the current regulations. I have been informed that, in some cases, the national and even the international hierarchy of local businesses directors and chief executive officers, who do not necessarily even operate in the ACT and are resident overseas, of local companies in Canberra require accreditation for the company to operate in the ACT. This really is an example of regulation gone mad.
The ACT requires police checks, statutory declarations and other materials from individuals who do not work in this city or, in some cases, do not even work within Australia. I would be most interested in hearing the rationale behind this requirement,