The ETU has successfully lobbied for electrical occupations to be exempt from the NSW automatic mutual recognition laws that were introduced in early 2021.
The Federal Government’s legislation allows individuals who are registered or licensed for an occupation in one state or territory to be considered automatically registered or licensed to undertake their work in a different jurisdiction with no additional checks. It creates a race to the bottom for licensing requirements and safety standards nationally, which is problematic for high-risk occupations like ours.
Unlike other occupations that would benefit from the scheme, for electrical workers the significant differences between licenses and registrations from state to state would leave electrical workers exposed to falling foul of another states rules that they might be unfamiliar with or worse, lead to workers performing unsafe or illegal work simply because they were unaware of the different legislative requirements of another state. Industry experts have warned that there could be potential fatalities in our communities if the Federal Governments model was adopted as it would create a race to the bottom for electrical licensing standards.
Automatic Mutual Recognition can only occur safely and effectively if we have nationally consistent electrical safety legislation. Ours is a dangerous industry, and it’s so important that we protect the health and safety of our members, their families and the community. When we need workers to cross the borders, especially in cases of natural disasters and emergencies, we need to be confident that we’re not selling out safety and creating other dangers in the process.
One of the key wins in the NSW legislation was securing a mechanism to make sure unions are consulted about fixing these issues before electrical occupations can be added to the system.
Our next step is to continue to lobby all other state governments to follow NSW’s lead and exempt electrical occupations from AMR until meaningful and robust consultation with industry stakeholders delivers nationally consistent electrical safety laws.
Note: this does not affect existing east coast mutual recognition arrangements between QLD, NSW and VIC which is particularly important for those electricians who live and/or work across border towns in those states.