The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has condemned the latest proposal to scrap crucial safety checks which keep Australian workers and the public safe.
A Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) report released on Monday has called for removing licensing of electricians and plumbers.
It labels both trades as “personal services” that should have the same arrangements as taxi drivers and driving instructors.
“The suggestion that we should scrap licensing in electrical trades is a dangerous thought bubble that needs to be rejected outright,” ETU Acting National Secretary Michael Wright said.
“A skilled workforce performing important safety checks are the backbone of Australia’s licensing systems. It’s no accident that Australia has one of the lowest rates of household electrical fires in the Western world – it’s because we have amongst the highest standards in training for our electrical workers.
“Using the combustible cladding debacle to suggest electrical and plumbing licensing doesn’t work is ridiculous.
“Winding back safety regulations is a recipe for disaster which puts all of us at risk.
“We’re calling on the Federal Government to rule out watering down safety standards for electrical trades.”
CEDA also calls for the Automatic Mutual Recognition of Occupational Registration scheme to be extended across all states.
That would mean any electrical worker could work in any state or jurisdiction automatically, without undergoing simple but important safety and verification checks.
“Moving to automatic mutual recognition will erode safety standards and checks which are absolutely crucial for high-risk jobs like electricians.
“What we need is a national licensing system so that we can align the significant differences between states.
“Automatic mutual recognition exposes workers to massive liability if they fail to understand legal requirements in different jurisdictions.”
CEDA also wants to review all licensing regulations to see whether online reviews could be used by consumers to assess quality.
Licensing would be reduced and the focus shifted towards quality standards under consumer law.
“Safety laws are there for a reason. Any attempt to give consumer law primacy over legislation which is written to save lives is madness,” Mr Wright said.