On 11 October 2016, the Senate established the Select Committee on Red
Tape (committee) to inquire into and report on the effect of restrictions and
prohibitions on business (red tape) on the economy and community, by 1 December 2017,
with particular reference to:
effects on compliance costs (in hours and money), economic output, employment
and government revenue, with particular attention to industries, such as
mining, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, and small business;
specific areas of red tape that are particularly burdensome, complex, redundant
or duplicated across jurisdictions;
impact on health, safety and economic opportunity, particularly for the
low-skilled and disadvantaged;
effectiveness of the Abbott, Turnbull and previous governments' efforts to
reduce red tape;
adequacy of current institutional structures (such as Regulation Impact
Statements, the Office of Best Practice Regulation and red tape repeal days)
for achieving genuine and permanent reductions to red tape;
institutional arrangements to reduce red tape, including providing subsidies or
tax concessions to businesses to achieve outcomes currently achieved through
different jurisdictions in Australia and internationally have attempted to
reduce red tape; and
On 28 November 2017, the Senate extended the reporting date to 3
December 2018. The committee decided to conduct the inquiry by focusing on specific areas.
This interim report presents the committee's findings and conclusions about the
effect of red tape on occupational licensing (licensing inquiry).
Conduct of the licensing inquiry and acknowledgement
The committee advertised the licensing inquiry on its website and wrote
to a number of individuals and organisations, inviting submissions by 4 May 2018.
The committee continued to accept submissions received after this date. In
total, the committee received 15 submissions, which are listed at Appendix
The committee held a public hearing in Sydney on 13 June 2018. The witnesses
who appeared before the committee are listed at Appendix 2.
The committee thanks the individuals and organisations, who made submissions
and gave evidence to assist the committee with its licensing inquiry.
Scope of the report
Chapter one provides broad background information to set the regulatory
context for the licensing inquiry. Chapter two then examines some of the information
presented to the committee, which may be drawn upon in the committee's final
Regulatory framework for occupational licensing
In 2008, Australian, state and territory governments signed the National
Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy (NPA). This agreement sought to create a seamless national economy, enhance
Australia's long-term growth, and expand Australia's productive capacity over
The NPA set out a complex range of microeconomic reforms (Implementation
Plan), including the establishment of a national trade licensing system to
allow licensees in specified occupations to work throughout Australia (Deregulation
National Occupational Licensing
Throughout 2009–2013, progress was made toward implementation of a national
occupational licensing scheme (NOLS). However, in December 2013, the majority
of states and territories decided not to pursue the reform, citing concerns
with the proposed model and its potential costs.
Instead, state and territory governments decided to develop alternative
licensing reforms through the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF). The
CAF reforms aim to enhance flexibility and mobility for workers, without
imposing a national system that would increase regulatory costs. The CAF notes
The decision on whether to implement CAF occupational
licensing reforms, including external equivalence, rests with individual State
and Territory Governments. Reforms can be implemented on a unilateral,
bilateral, multilateral or national basis. States and Territories will also
have the flexibility to opt-in to reforms over time.
Mutual recognition arrangements
The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (Cth) enables licensees in one
jurisdiction to seek recognition and gain access to an equivalent occupational
registration in another jurisdiction. This scheme of mutual recognition aims to
reduce the costs to individuals and businesses who wish to trade interstate or
to operate in more than one state.
The Department of Education and Training (Department), which administers
the scheme, explained that mutual recognition is based on equivalence and that
there are three primary ways to establish equivalency:
- direct application to a regulatory authority—the individual applies
for registration in an equivalent occupation and the application is assessed by
- ministerial declarations—equivalency of occupations is agreed by
responsible state ministers in legislative instruments, and individuals'
applications are processed by regulatory authorities without the need for
equivalency assessment; and
- automatic mutual recognition—if agreed on a bilateral or
multilateral basis, certain occupations do not need to apply for further
registration but can operate in another jurisdiction under their original
Accordingly, mutual recognition of occupational licensing is essentially
a matter for the states and territories:
The Commonwealth has no legislative power to recognise
licenses or registration, determine occupational equivalency, confer automatic
mutual recognition, or to make or rescind ministerial declarations.
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