Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Electrical installations in homes, and other buildings, will become less safe if the current plan to introduce a lowest-common-denominator national licence for people working in the electrical industry goes ahead as proposed by the Federal Government and overseen by the National Occupational and Licensing Authority (NOLA).

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 seek to lobby the Federal Government to have it modified.

“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,” says James Tinslay, CEO.  “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.

Last month the Queensland Coroner handed down his findings on the deaths of three young people in Queensland as a result of the Rudd government ill-fated pink batts program. There has been no Royal Commission or similar public inquiry to seek findings as to how a program found wanting in its design by NECA could be signed off by government to proceed when there were clear warnings of significant safety dangers.

Surely a public enquiry into the pink batts program should be commissioned to study the failings before heading down a vastly more dangerous path of allowing electrical work to be carried out under a reduced regulatory regime. Lightning can strike twice when governance is inadequate.

If the concerns affecting safety are not addressed, NECA will call to have the national licensing initiative abandoned.


Contact Profile

Ian Richardson – President

P: 02 9888 3081
W: www.knx.org.au


Public enquiry needed to avoid another Pink Batts disaster; Electrical installations in homes; national licensing



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