Regulating the professions: What could possibly go wrong?
19 May 2020
While competition regulators are wary of the potential for some occupational and professional licensing schemes to erect excessive barriers against entry, Australia has a lengthy history of regulation in this area as a critical means to protect consumers. Requiring qualifications to call oneself a surgeon, surveyor, chaplain, lawyer or school master turns out to date back to the very earliest days of the colonies, followed over the decades by numerous other groups.Registration, licensing and accreditation schemes are a common feature of today’s regulatory frameworks but the regulatory practices of assessing applications, auditing and discipline can be both complex and contested. How dizzyingly fast the co/de/regulation pendulum has been swinging of late! Whether it be the array of building and construction professionals under fierce scrutiny because of cladding and other failures in high-rise apartments, or the COVID 19-driven pressures on AHPRA for fast-tracking registration of health professionals, or the ongoing conversation about balancing natural justice for professionals with protecting consumers, there couldn’t be a better time for this important discussion.