The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), and other industry parties, unanimously agree that the current proposals fail the community in every way possible. It lowers the basic standards and forces all electrical contractors into a one-size-fits-all model. And as a result, NECA cannot support the proposed national licensing model and will lobby state governments across Australia to push for it to be modified.
“We urge all state governments to actively reject the Federal Government’s proposals,” says James Tinsley, NECA CEO. “State governments currently run the state-based licensing systems and their voices need to be heard. And if they were to agree to this lowering of safety standards across Australia they will be complicit with any resulting loss of life, or serious injury, that may well occur in the future,” he added.
“At NECA we have long sought a national licensing system for both electricians and electrical contractor licences, to replace the current long-standing state-based systems,” Tinslay recalls. “We can drive anywhere in Australia with a state-based driver’s licence and there is a single national cabling licensing system. So we have long been questioning why there isn’t a national electrical licensing system,” he adds.
NECA has been deeply involved for over three years in the National Occupational Licensing Scheme advisory groups and has consistently over that time provided advice at odds with the content of this final proposal. These are in some cases issues of detail but also there are high level issues that undermine longstanding industry performance and safety standards. The proposals will result in lower levels of safety and technical expertise available to households and the Australian community.
For electrical contractor licensing, the proposed removal of all existing additional competencies is inexplicable given that such additional skills add to employee safety and some level of assurance for consumers.
“Last week’s announcement is yet another example of where the Federal Government is not listening to industry,” points out Tinslay. “And considering the recent debacle with the pink batts/insulation program – where four young people died unnecessarily, simply because the government did not heed the advice it received from industry prior to launching the initiative. It is very worrying to see the same thing potentially happening again. Understanding how to manage projects involving electricity is a highly skilled profession and any attempt to undermine that skill is putting people’s lives at risk. We don’t believe the Government should be allowed to make this mistake again,” Tinslay concluded.
If the concerns affecting safety are not addressed, NECA will call on state governments to demand that the national licensing initiative be abandoned.