11 December 2014
Media Release - #2014064, 2014

Productivity Commission review into goods and skilled workers exchange in Australia and with NZ

Joint media release
the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP
Minister for Industry

Today the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and the Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, announced a Productivity Commission review that will aim to make the movement of goods and skilled workers easier within Australia and between Australia and New Zealand.

Known as ‘mutual recognition arrangements’ (MRA), the review will help identify regulatory barriers to the movement of goods and skilled workers.

MRAs allow goods that can be lawfully sold in one jurisdiction to be sold in other jurisdictions without having to meet additional requirements.

Similarly, people registered to practise an occupation in one jurisdiction are entitled to practise an equivalent occupation in other jurisdictions.

The Trans-Tasman MRA extends this model of mutual recognition to New Zealand, with some limitations.

The benefits include lower costs to business and improved competitiveness from single standards for manufacturing; greater choice for consumers and greater cooperation between regulatory authorities.

These MRAs are reviewed every five years to identify ways of improving recognition processes and removing barriers.

The findings will be considered in the context of the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

The Competitiveness Agenda is a central part of the Government’s Economic Action Strategy to build a strong, prosperous economy by strengthening Australia’s competitiveness.

The Productivity Commission is due to report back to the Government within nine months. The Productivity Commission will consult widely as part of the review, with information available on the Productivity Commission website.

The Terms of Reference for the review are below.

Terms of Reference

2014 Review of the Mutual Recognition Agreement and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement

I, Joseph Benedict Hockey, Treasurer, pursuant to Parts 2 and 4 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, hereby request that the Productivity Commission undertake a review of the operation of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) since the previous review, released in 2009.

  1. The Commission is to:
    1. assess the coverage, efficiency and effectiveness of the MRA and TTMRA;
    2. recommend ways to further improve the inter-jurisdictional movement of goods and skilled workers, and reduce red tape, including examining the scope for automatic mutual recognition where applicable;
    3. address matters identified by the Cross-Jurisdictional Review Forum, including, but not restricted to:
      • the nature and extent of any problem caused by use of goods requirements that restrict the sale of goods under both the MRA and TTMRA, and the costs and benefits of any solutions proposed;
      • the issues associated with extending mutual recognition to business registration requirements under the MRA or TTMRA where similar requirements would result in an individual being registered, and the costs and benefits of any options proposed; and
    4. examine, following the entry into force of the Agreement on Trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement, the extent to which the Agreement could facilitate the Trans-Tasman provision of services by particular occupations, based on a single registration,
      • consider how such an arrangement could operate; and
      • identify and document evidence of any occupations where there is sufficient demand for, and barriers to, cross-border service provision to merit inclusion in such an arrangement;
    5. examine the extent to which Commonwealth regulatory agencies are aware of their obligations under the TTMRA and have implemented mutual recognition processes.
  2. In undertaking the research study, the Commission is to consult relevant stakeholders in Australia and New Zealand, including the Cross-Jurisdictional Review Forum and to substantiate recommendations, wherever possible, with evidence relating to the scale of the problem and the estimated cost of both the problem and any solution(s) proposed. The Commission should also have regard to the approaches being taken by the Council for the Australian Federation towards ‘minimising labour impediments to improving labour mobility’, following the decision by the majority of States at COAG on 13 December 2013 to not pursue the National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform.
  3. The Commission’s report shall be presented to Australian Heads of Government and the New Zealand Prime Minister nine months from the date of commissioning and the Commission’s report is to be published.
  4. Within three months of receiving the Commission’s findings, the Cross-Jurisdictional Review Forum is to present to Australian Heads of Government and the New Zealand Prime Minister a Review Report responding to those findings.