Queensland to streamline dangerous goods licensing

Queensland begins work to streamline occupational licensing standards, which will apply to the dangerous goods transport sector

By Brad Gardner | October 7, 2010

The Bligh Government has begun work to streamline occupational licensing standards to cut red tape afflicting businesses operating across borders.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser this week introduced the Occupational Licensing National Law (Queensland) Bill as part of moves by all states and territories to create a national scheme.

Fraser says existing standards need to be reformed because jurisdictions have different policies, eligibility requirements, fees, categories and duration periods.

"These different regulatory requirements across jurisdictions create compliance costs for licensees and businesses, and eventually consumers," Fraser says.

"These costs may include direct costs to licensees such as payment of multiple licence fees, as well as the indirect costs associated with compliance with different regulatory regimes."

Dangerous goods operators, passenger vehicle drivers and the maritime sector will need to wait until at least July 1, 2013 for the reforms to take effect because they are the second phase of a two-part process.

Occupations to be dealt with first are plumbing and gasfitting, air conditioning and refrigeration, electrical and property. The reforms will be introduced on July 1, 2012.

Fraser says a national system will improve business efficiency and competiveness, reduce administrative costs and increase productivity.

"Businesses and workers issued with a licence by the licensing authority will be able to use that licence to operate across Australia, and they will only need to pay one fee for that licence."

Under the agreement between the states signed in 2009, Victoria passed legislation last month to establish a national law governing the process.

Similar to Queensland, other jurisdictions will gradually introduce similar legislation to create a national system.

While a limited number of occupations will be dealt with initially, Fraser says the national law has been designed so additional areas can be included over time.

The National Occupational Licensing Authority will be set up under the law to govern licensing standards and an advisory committee will be established for each licensed occupation.

Although the reforms are expected to save businesses money, the Bill’s explanatory notes state that Queensland might experience a decline in revenue from licensing fees.

The national system will also create new penalties for non-compliance, including fines of up to $50,000 for unlicensed individuals.

Those who refuse officers permission to stop and search vehicles can be fined $10,000. Individuals face a $25,000 fine for false or misleading information, compared to body corporate penalties of $125,000.

All states and territories are expected to introduce legislation to reform licensing standards by the end of the year.

The reforms are part of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement to create a seamless national economy.

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