Posted on 13. Sep, 2010 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — I rise to support the Occupational Licensing National Law Bill 2010. The general thrust of this bill is to realise the decision by the Council of Australian Governments to set up a national system that can provide licensing arrangements for businesses and workers. Such arrangements are required to create consistency across Australia and enable licensees to carry out work anywhere in Australia without the trouble of having to hold multiple licenses, as is the experience under the present system. Lastly, such arrangements need to maintain the important function of offering protection to general consumers, staff and the public.

The provisions of the bill detail some new proposals in that the bill aims to implement national law — namely, the national occupational licensing law. The law will apply in the following areas. A process in relation to disciplinary action against licensees has been drawn up for the licensing authority to help workers and businesses to understand how to better operate across borders and throughout the whole country. The bill aims to reduce the existing overlap of regulations and, in some cases, rules by setting up formal requirements for relevant individuals and businesses to be licensed to undertake work. For certain occupations the national regulations will be used to further specify licensing requirements.

The bill aims to cut some unnecessary red tape and make a more streamlined national regulatory system. It also proposes to establish a formal process for applicants and licensees to pursue internal reviews of the licensing authority as well as for the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to hear appeals of particular decisions. In order for the national law to be more effectively enforced, authorised officers will be provided with specific powers giving them the authority to oversee the national law as well.

Some crucial technical amendments in this bill include: the establishment of a licensing authority which will be monitored and governed by a board; setting up a more streamlined system of governance for the NOLS (national occupational licensing system); the establishment of the Occupational Licensing Advisory Committee (OLAC); and setting up specific functions of the ministerial council.

Necessary protection for consumers and the general public will be maintained. A national register system will be provided by the bill to assist existing and potential licensees, and the public will also have access to such registers for information and necessary knowledge. Systems in the financial, reporting and planning categories of the national occupational licensing system will be provided by the national law. It will cover freedom of information and laws relating to archiving as well as to the Ombudsman and certain privacy issues.

In conclusion, the national law provides consistency in licensing policy nationally and continues to offer a fair degree of flexibility to tackle particular issues. The bill has also been found to be compatible with the human rights charter, and I commend it to the house.

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