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The current reforms to register and license building trades will see most, if not all, workers at building sites require some form of government approval to be allowed to work.
This broad-brush approach to managing trade contractors is unlikely to achieve the objectives of the reforms. More concerningly, this approach is likely to drive experienced practitioners out of the industry and reduce a workforce operating under extreme pressure already.
The registration and licensing of trades reform was first announced in July 2018 with legislation passed in September 2018. Amendments to the original legislation were passed in October 2021. While the 2021 amendments addressed some of industry’s concerns, several aspects of the reforms remain a concern.
Trades who work directly for consumers over a reasonable monetary threshold, or in high-risk environments, including electrical and plumbing, should require registration. This would provide security for consumers, ensure those undertaking high risk work are appropriately skilled, and reduce the extent to which parties are exposed to excessive financial risks.
However, it is unnecessary to require individual trades to be registered when they provide services to registered builders. Under existing building laws the registered builder is responsible for ensuring that work adheres to regulatory requirements, and meets the contractual obligation to the consumer. The builder is also responsible for rectifying any non-compliant work on their projects. The existing builder registration arrangements and regulatory frameworks already manage these risks – the registration and licensing reforms will not change this obligation on builders, whilst increasing the regulatory requirement on trade contractors and their employees.
Government proposals to make all trades who work as employees of a registered builder or trade contractor gain a license should be abandoned. The responsibility for all work they undertake again already lies with the builder.
Retain existing consumer protection legislation requiring trades to be registered where they work and contract directly with a consumer or carry out high-risk trades
Repeal the legislation providing for the registration of trade contractors working solely for builders
Repeal the proposed licensing of employees of builders and trade contractors.