Tradespeople and others in licensed occupations would find it easier to work across state and territory boundaries next year under a plan being developed.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, announcing the plan, agreed to by the nation’s treasurers, said it would “help to address impediments to labour mobility across jurisdictions by allowing a person who is licensed or registered in one jurisdiction to be already considered registered in another in an equivalent occupation.”
There is at present mutual recognition of licensed occupations, but workers need to apply for recognition in another state or territory, pay fees and sometimes meet extra requirements.
Frydenberg said the tradespeople the agreement could assist included carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, builders, electricians and plumbers. It could also help teachers and property agents.
It is hoped the agreement will operate from January 1. It will need legislation to be passed in the jurisdictions. National cabinet will hear a progress report in October.
There would be limited exemptions – which are still being worked through -– to the automatic recognition of licences.
Frydenberg said the current mutual recognition regime was costly, complex and imposed an excessive regulatory burden on businesses that operated across borders.
“A uniform scheme will make it easier and less expensive for businesses, professionals and workers to move or operate within jurisdictions and across Australia, thereby creating jobs, increasing output, competition and innovation, and resulting in lower prices for consumers and businesses.”
At present there are more than 800 different licences in manual trades alone. About one fifth of workers in the economy are required to be licensed. Interstate migration was about 300,000 in 2019 – before the impact of the pandemic and closed borders between states and territories.
The Productivity Commission in 2015 criticised the working of mutual recognition schemes then operating. It saw “automatic mutual recognition as a flexible, low-cost way of facilitating trade and labour mobility while minimising the regulatory burden”.