Since its formation in 1927, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has been the peak trade union body in Australia. The ACTU consists of affiliated unions and State and regional trades and labour councils. There are currently 43 ACTU affiliates. They have approximately 1.5 million members who are engaged across a broad spectrum of industries and occupations in the public and private sector. As the representative voice for Australian workers, the ACTU represents the interests of the 17% of the workforce who require a licence or registration to undertake their work. While we believe we should have been consulted far before this late juncture, we nonetheless welcome the opportunity to have input into the Government’s proposed Automatic Mutual Recognition Scheme (AMRS).
Australian unions, while acknowledging the benefits of such a scheme, have a number of concerns about the proposed AMRS. These concerns can be broadly categorised as:
- A lack of a clear rationale for a new scheme.
- Unclear benefits.
- The top-down nature of the system.
- The inability to deal with regional variation.
- The risk to strong licensing schemes.
While some of these concerns may be able to be addressed through changes to the proposed scheme, we believe some represent insoluble issues in the current Australian context. It is our view that this scheme should not proceed until these issues can be addressed through other, industry-led, mechanisms.