Palaszczuk Government saves plumbers $54 million

The state’s plumbing industry can look toward the future with confidence as the Palaszczuk Government works to resolve ongoing licencing issues caused by the previous LNP government.

Speaking at the Master Plumbers Association of Queensland’s Women’s Plumbing Alliance breakfast, Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said actions and omissions of the previous LNP government left Queensland plumbing businesses liable for up to $54 million in fines.

“Clear standards and requirements for licencing provide confidence to the plumbing industry, and to the Queenslanders who rely on the plumbing industry for their livelihood,” Mr de Brenni said.

“For health and safety reasons, some contractor classes including plumbers are required to hold two licences, in this case a contractor licence under the QBCC Act, and an occupational licence under the Plumbing and Drainage Act.

“In 2014 the former Public Works Minister Tim Mander wrote to licenced plumbing and drainage contractors, and told them they would no longer be required to obtain separate licences under the QBCC Act and the Plumbing and Drainage Act.

“But the LNP failed to change the necessary legislation to make that statement true, which directly led to 5,387 licensed tradespeople to fail to renew their licences or pay the licence fee – an offence carrying a fine of more than $21,000.

“The LNP’s actions and omissions exposed the industry to potential fines of up to $54 million in total, which could crush small businesses in Queensland.”

The Palaszczuk Government’s Plumbing and Drainage legislation passed last month ensures that from today, plumbers who mistakenly did not hold both licences would retrospectively be taken not to have committed an offence.

MPAQ Executive Director Penny Cornah said the Palaszczuk Government’s new plumbing and drainage laws have taken the first step to address the legacy matter around the occupational and contractor licensing issue.

“The legislation ensures those contractors who’ve acted in good faith cannot be prosecuted for acting unlicensed or be subject to disciplinary action for failing to hold an occupational licence between 2014 to now,” Ms Cornah said.

“The government should be commended on resolving this retrospective issue which is a huge concern for all of our industry.

“We are now very confident the Palaszczuk Government is poised to finalise the issue in coming months.”

Plumbers Union State Secretary Gary O’Halloran acknowledged the work done so far by the Palaszczuk Government to fix the mess left by the previous LNP government.

“You can break a system in a moment, but it takes a while to fix,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“Queensland plumbers are glad the first part of the issue has now been dealt with, so that plumbers who were unintentionally unlicensed during that time won’t be fined, and the work they performed is legal.

“The Plumbers Union will continue to work with the Palaszczuk Government to finish the job to fix the mess and deal with the issue of dual licence fees.”

Mr de Brenni said a meeting of industry is scheduled for late November to agree on the next steps.

“At this meeting, the options to properly streamline and eliminate the second fee will be discussed and a process agreed upon,” Mr de Brenni said.

“I intend that in 2019 the Parliament will be asked to properly approve the fee reduction for thousands of small businesses., to bring back certainty for Queensland’s plumbers and their families.”

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