New mutual state licensing scheme could have dangerous consequences if applied to electrical trades

Eimear test O'Sullivan

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) says the electrical industry should be exempt from the proposed Automatic Mutual Recognition of licenses whilst differences exist in electrical legislation between jurisdictions.

Electrical regulators in all jurisdictions already recognise interstate electrical licences of equivalent types under existing mutual recognition schemes but most jurisdictions still require workers to apply for a licence to undertake electrical work in that state or territory.

Its vitally important that electrical workers know and understand the ‘conduct’ rules that apply in each jurisdiction before they commence electrical work there. There are many differences in how electrical work must be conducted in the various jurisdictions and electrical workers run the risk of falling foul of legislation with significant fines and possible jail terms as the penalty if they are not familiar with the particular provisions of the legislation.

“The state licenses are more than just licenses – they provide regulators an opportunity to gather information to ensure the person seeking to be issued with a licence actually has the necessary attributes to undertake that work safely and effectively. They also provide regulators an opportunity to reinforce the specific legislative requirements that are relevant in that state or territory,” said ETU National Secretary, Allen Hicks.

“’Cutting red tape’ is just shorthand for cutting corners. If you cut corners in the electrical industry you risk the safety of workers and consumers.

“This new system might work really well for hairdressers, but if it is applied to electrical trades it will potentially have really dangerous consequences.

“Until the government, unions and businesses can sit down together to iron out discrepancies in the ‘conduct’ rules for each jurisdiction, electricians should be excluded from the Automatic Mutual Recognition scheme,” said Mr Hicks.


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