The Queensland government has indicated it will be working with the Commonwealth to resolve issues around automatic mutual recognition before adopting the reforms, due to take effect on July 1 around Australia.
“The Queensland government is supportive of improving occupational mobility to support economic recovery, but not at any cost,” says the government. “It is committed to retaining Queensland’s high standards of regulatory protections and safeguards. A critical issue for Queensland is ensuring appropriate clarity and flexibility to be able to effectively exempt specific occupations to address and manage the substantial concerns raised by key stakeholders and regulators. In this regard, the Queensland government is continuing to engage with the Commonwealth on these matters.
“As such, any adoption of the reform in Queensland would only be at a time when Queensland is fully ready.”
The automatic mutual recognition (AMR) system has been designed to allow licensed workers to operate across borders without having to apply, pay for and wait for a further licence to perform the same type of work in other states and territories. AMR will cover trades such as HVAC&R technicians, electricians and plumbers, as well as other occupations such as teachers and property agents.
When the bill was read in parliament, concerns were raised about the lack of consistency between different state licenses – particularly in the electrical and construction industries – and the safety issues this might create. At the time, an amendment was proposed, but it was voted down by the Senate on the grounds that state ministers could exempt certain occupations from the scheme. It appears Queensland is now exercising this option.
The statement is in line with a media release from the Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick in December 2020, which indicated that Queensland had secured clauses in the intergovernmental agreement to ensure its “high standards would not be compromised”.
“Queensland supports common-sense mutual recognition,” said Dick, “but under no circumstances will we compromise our world-leading standards for fire safety, electrical and plumbing trades that are based on formal qualifications.
“This includes ensuring interstate arrivals continue to engage with Queensland’s regulators, such as the Electrical Safety Office, before undertaking work that could compromise safety or standards.
“The agreement allows Queensland to withdraw its participation in the scheme in whole or in part, and we will not hesitate to act if other states do not step up to our high standards.”