The Commonwealth's mutual recognition scheme under the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (Cth) was amended in 2021 to introduce automatic deemed registration (ADR), enabling holders of a valid occupational licence in their home state to work across jurisdictions simply, quickly and cheaply.

It allows states the flexibility to exclude occupations if a Minister of a State determines that the occupation presents a significant risk to consumer protection, the environment, animal welfare, health or safety of workers or the public.

NSW adopted the amended scheme from 1 July 2021 but immediately declared various occupational licences exempt from ADR for 12 months and made a similar 12-month declaration on its expiry in 2022.

Effective 1 July 2023, a further 12-month exemption has been declared by the Automatic Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) (Exemption - Various) Declaration 2023. The exemption affects the construction sector in particular and is important to note given the implications of operating without a licence in NSW. The current declaration can be found here.

Relevantly, the construction sector exemptions to ADR include:

  • contractor licence and supervisor certificate for general building work under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW)
  • contractor licence and supervisor certificate for the erection of prefabricated metal-framed home additions and structures under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW)
  • licences and certificates for water plumbing - fire protection and fire sprinkler systems under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW)
  • licences and certificates for mechanical services and medical gas work, medical gas technician work, medical gas fitting work under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW)
  • licences and certificates for electrical wiring, air-conditioning and refrigeration work under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW)
  • registration or recognition within the meaning of the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW):
    • design practitioner - fire systems (all classes)
    • design practitioner - fire safety engineering
    • professional engineer - fire safety.
  • registered certifiers - fire safety and accredited practitioner - fire safety under the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 (NSW).

The risk statement notes:

"Significant risk to consumer protection and the public safety. The building and construction sector in NSW is subject to additional requirements and protections. Building failures result in costs to homeowners in remedying defects and an increased risk to safety for people living with non-compliant building work. The NSW Government and consumers need to have confidence in the building and construction sector".

The explanatory statement for the declaration indicates there was consultation with industry stakeholders and a recognition of ongoing risks associated with ADR. Looking ahead, the 12 months provided in the declaration is said to provide additional time for NSW agencies to address the risks identified to safely transition these occupational licences into ADR in the future.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.