Page 2292 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2016

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The bill removes requirements that put the burden on applicants to provide a range of supporting documentation with their application, such as standard police checks and planning approval checks, and instead allows Access Canberra to collect such documents on their behalf. This will create time savings for licence applicants and holders and reduce their administrative burden so they can focus their limited resources back on their business.

This bill achieves significant reductions in red tape for the motor vehicle sales and repair industries and for second-hand dealer and pawnbroking businesses in the ACT, with a simple, accessible and easy to understand licensing process.

In addition to standardising licensing requirements, the bill gives the licence holder flexibility by allowing them to transfer the licence to another person. This is a significant convenience when a business is sold, for example. The new owner does not need to go through the full application process for a new licence. The transfer process will simply require consideration of the new owner’s suitability for the licence as the suitability of the business itself would already have been established.

This bill advances Access Canberra‘s ongoing program of simplifying and streamlining its licensing processes and service delivery. It provides the legislative framework for licence applicants and holders to be able to interact with the government online at any time of day or night through the creation of effective digital licensing processes. There are transitional arrangements to make sure that licences current at the time of commencement of this legislation will continue with the same conditions and same expiry date.

While this bill provides real and immediate benefits for the industries it currently includes, its greatest value is as model legislation for a future single licensing framework. The government’s intention is that this bill will be expanded by stages to encompass other more numerous and complex licence types.

The Commissioner for Fair Trading issues around 40 different types of licences across various industries in the ACT. Clearly not all these industries are the same, so they cannot be regulated in the same way. The bill retains the flexibility to require additional requirements or considerations that may be appropriate for specific industries that are higher risk, should they be included in future stages of this legislation.

This risk-based regulation model allows Access Canberra in turn to apply a risk-based compliance approach to make sure resources are targeted to where the risks of harm, unsafe practices or serious financial loss are greatest.

This bill, I believe, achieves the right balance between effective consumer protection and convenience for industry. The bill does not in any way affect Access Canberra’s ability to monitor and enforce compliance within these industries. The enforcement powers of the Commissioner for Fair Trading remain largely unchanged.

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