The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on proposals to introduce a uniform scheme for the automatic mutual recognition (AMR) of occupational registrations in Australia.
The Australian resources sector employs about 264,000 people in predominantly high skilled jobs, with a significant proportion of these jobs being in regional and remote Australia. These are also high-wage jobs, with average weekly earnings in the sector standing at $2697.50; more than double the national average for all industries of $1,713.90.
The minerals industry is proud to be an active partner of communities across regional Australia. Working in partnership with host communities and regions, the industry supports shared and sustainable benefits from minerals development.
The Productivity Commission, in its 2014 report on geographic labour mobility noted that geographic labour mobility has been an important mechanism for adjusting to the demographic, structural and technological forces shaping the Australian economy. This has become more apparent as the Australian economy recovers from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission also noted in its 2015 review of mutual recognition arrangements that new occupational licensing registrations made under mutual recognition were the highest in Western Australia and Tasmania (15 per cent).
Previous attempts at achieving national consistency in occupational licensing have been flawed and unsuccessful. Models put forward under the national occupational licensing scheme era (2008 - 2015) required considerable change to existing state and territory systems; changes that ultimately diluted the will of jurisdictions to pursue full implementation of proposed reforms.
The MCA views current automatic mutual recognition deregulation reforms agreed by National Cabinet in December 2020 (with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory) as being more pragmatic in nature. The proposed reforms allow existing mutual recognition schemes to continue their operation and importantly, they contain safeguards and flexibilities so that states and territories can ensure proposed arrangements operate appropriately at the individual jurisdiction level.
Prompt passage of draft legislation will not only assist mining industry workers operating across state and territory borders, it will also assist more broadly in Australia’s economic recovery and facilitate a more timely and fulsome national response to natural disasters. While acknowledging the proposed legislative implementation timelines may prove challenging for some jurisdictions, the MCA encourages governments to stay the course on this important reform measure.