Western Australia has limited registration of trades. Only electricians, gas fitters, plumbers and painters attract registration requirements.
This is in stark contrast to Queensland where over 90 trades are licensed. Or South Australia where around 80 trades are licensed.
WA currently has general consumer protection under the Trade Practices Act or the Fair Trading Act in the event of misrepresentations, shoddy work or deceptive conduct.
The Department of Commerce can help in relation to consumer rights under the Australian Consumer Law. In summary, the supplier of a service guarantees its services are:
- provided with due care and skill;
- fit for a particular purpose; and
- provided within a reasonable time, when no time is set.
However there is no threat of deregistration.
There are certainly potential upsides to the registration of more trades in WA.
Greater accountability for defective work could lead to higher standards of workmanship over time where licensing could bring a greater focus on safety, insurances, training and policing.
The registration of trades could also provide a clearer career path in the industry, attracting more talented men and women into the already rewarding construction trades.
However, new licensing requirements risk exacerbating trade shortages in busy times and could rapidly escalate construction costs if not carefully introduced.
Master Builders is aware of some work that could be improved in our state and it is in the interests of builders and professional tradespeople that we have a greater commitment to quality work. Our Association has a position to support licensing, albeit that it has to be phased in over time to mitigate potential trade shortages.
Consumers should be mindful that licensing may add to consumer protections, but still cannot guarantee the quality of work done.
The Building Commission already has the statutory power to implement licensing but it is a political question as to whether the WA Government wants to move to lift trades standards through a licensing regime.
Visit mbawa.com to find a registered Master Builder or subcontractor member.