Page 125 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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and I struggle to see how it could be justified. I understand the need for that level of detail in certain industries, particularly, for example, in the casino industry where one has to be especially careful to ensure that the parentage of entities operating in the gambling industry is legitimate and that those trails that in some states and jurisdictions go back to overseas owners make a lot of sense. But this is not an industry that I believe sits within that appropriate regime, and I think that it is simply caught up in a regulatory arrangement that now needs to be revisited.

The cost and the associated administrative burden of these licences amount to a significant impost on companies that work in the recruiting industry, especially when nothing is received in return; and, sadly, other competitors do not bother to apply for the same accreditation. It is my understanding that a significant number of employment agencies have operated in the past, and may even continue to do so, without bothering with the licences, although I am aware that the minister attempted to intensify efforts in this regard last year. But I suggest that that really is not the solution.

This puts those companies that do comply with the costly licensing requirements at a comparative disadvantage. That individuals and companies are able to operate outside the system is another indication of the present system’s complete ineffectiveness. Although the government made some noise about improving the current regulation system last year, I do not believe that it can be fixed or that there is any compelling reason even to do this.

The alternative that I have proposed represents a better outcome for both the industry and the ACT community. I do not believe that there is a need for this layer of bureaucracy. It is, at best, an example of excessive government involvement and, at worst, a rather bizarre attempt at revenue raising.

Last year I met on two occasions with representatives from the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association, the RCSA, and talked about the problems facing this industry in the ACT. The RCSA, whose members in Canberra, I believe, are those that have signed up mostly with the current licensing arrangements, represents something in the order of 80 per cent of the volume of all recruitment work undertaken in the ACT. They are a national body representing recruiters and employment consultants throughout Australia, and I met their national representatives from Melbourne as well as the local ACT representatives. The RCSA shares my view on the value or, more accurately, the lack of value of the ACT’s regulation and, indeed, it was their initiative that brought this to my attention.

I can imagine that there will be those that scoff at this. Of course an industry wants to be free of government interference and would advocate and support deregulation. But I do believe that such criticism or scepticism is unwarranted. Members of the RCSA are bound by a code of professional practice. This code is not something that is just a feel-good document. This code is actually authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and its members are legally bound to adhere to that code, and it has legal force.

The document provides greater regulation than the ACT scheme and commits members to the general principles of a high standard of ethics, probity and

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