Michelle Lensink

Building Work Contractors Act

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question on the subject of reviews of the Building Work Contractors Act.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: There have been three discussion papers released: one with submissions closing December 2006; one July 2007; and one June 2008. While I note that a couple of the suggestions have been adopted in the proposed legislation, a large number of matters are outstanding, some of which are of significant concern to groups such as the Master Builders Association. In particular, I note that they advocate a return to the former process of a panel for disputes. My question is: does the minister intend to introduce any amendments in parliament before the next election?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy) (15:48): I thank the honourable member for her question. Indeed, in May 2005 the then minister for consumer affairs asked the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs to commence a review of the Building Work Contractors Act 1995 in relation to licensing criteria, and that review was then extended to consider the effectiveness of building indemnity insurance and aspects of that scheme.

As the member outlined, a number of discussion papers were released by the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs detailing potential options for reform of the act, including contracts, building indemnity insurance and building consultants. However, the review has since been overtaken by the Council of Australian Governments' decision in July 2008 to pursue a national trade licensing system, with builders as one of the priority occupations that have been identified to move to a national licensing regime.

It is not clear what the extent of that national licensing system will be; however, obviously work is progressing on the development of the national trade licensing system, and an intergovernmental agreement on the system is anticipated to be presented to COAG for consideration. So, although the work this state has done has been overtaken by the COAG agenda, going down the path of the national licensing regime certainly has merits for the industry. It will help streamline the different trades and make more sensible the licensing arrangements; it will also make it easier and provide a more commonsense approach to various tradespeople working across borders.

A great deal of work needs to be done in bringing about that nationally consistent approach. There is a great deal of detail around recognition of qualifications and the different levels of licensing in place among the states. The states have a wide range of different numbers of categories under the different trades, so they all need to be consolidated into one national licensing system.

There is a great deal of debate. I understand that the appropriate peak trade and training authorities are all party to this national agenda, so they are participating in those discussions and negotiations. Considerable work has been done, and we continue to work towards a nationally consistent approach to licensing.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:51): As a supplementary question, will the minister advise whether the proposals being looked at include disciplinary provisions, or is it merely mutual recognition?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy) (51:52): I do not have the answer to that question with me, but I am happy to take it on notice and bring back a response.

Thursday 18 June 2009

In reply to the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (28 April 2009).

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy): I am advised:

1. The objectives and principles of the national licensing system will also include the promotion of national consistency in the approach to disciplinary matters which was agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments on 30 April 2009.

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