What is mutual recognition?
Mutual recognition of legislation and regulations allows goods that are legally produced and sold in one jurisdiction to be sold in another jurisdiction without the need to comply with additional legislative requirements in that second jurisdiction, and allows persons with registered occupations to work in an equivalent occupation in other jurisdictions.
The mutual recognition principles are:
- goods produced or imported into one jurisdiction, that may lawfully be sold in that jurisdiction, can be sold in the second jurisdiction without the necessity for compliance with additional requirements; and
- if a person is registered to carry out an occupation in one jurisdiction, he or she can be registered to carry out the equivalent occupation in any other state without the need for further assessment of qualifications and experience.
These principles are based on the premise that regulations and standards covering goods and occupations in one state meet community standards and expectations and therefore should be appropriate for other jurisdictions.
Mutual recognition is aimed at promoting economic integration and increasing trade and labour mobility between participant jurisdictions by removing regulatory impediments to trade and labour mobility and between Australian states and territories and between Australia and New Zealand. Mutual recognition also promotes increased awareness among regulators and professional associations in relation to procedures and their obligations.
Mutual recognition is also designed to lead to harmonisation of standards and regulatory requirements. Examples of where these requirements are not consistent include:
- different standards for goods (such as different standards of glass that can be used for certain applications);
- duplicate testing and certification requirements (for example, if conformity assessments were undertaken on a good for sale in New South Wales, the Victorian assessments would not need to be undertaken for the good to be sold in Victoria); and
- different regulatory requirements for those persons wishing to practise in registered occupations (such as particular training requirements for persons wishing to undertake an equivalent occupation in another jurisdiction).
Mutual recognition only applies to legislation affecting the sale of goods and the registration of occupations carried on by individuals. Mutual recognition does not extend to:
- the manner of sale of goods;
- transport, storage and handling of goods;
- inspection and or use of goods;
- the manner of delivery or the provision of services across borders;
- legislation that governs entry into registered occupations by new entrants resident within a jurisdiction; and
- international trade agreements.
Mutual recognition also does not extend to business licences. Business licensing relates to the requirements for running a business, such as the state of the premises or insurance coverage, and focuses on the conduct of carrying on the business itself, rather than the technical skills of the person or persons carrying on the business.
The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement
In 1996, the Commonwealth, states and territories and New Zealand signed a non-treaty agreement to establish the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA). The TTMRA was signed by the Prime Minister of Australia, state premiers, and territory chief ministers at the meeting of the Council of Australian Governments on 14 June 1996. The TTMRA was subsequently signed by the Prime Minister of New Zealand on 9 July 1996. The scheme commenced operation on 1 May 1998 with the enactment of enabling legislation.
The TTMRA builds on the MRA and, for Australian jurisdictions, recognises the laws and regulations made in New Zealand and vice versa. The TTMRA is based on the mutual recognition principles in Australia, with some additional exemptions and exclusions.
The TTMRA encapsulates two principles:
- a good that may be legally sold in Australia may be sold in New Zealand, and a good that may legally be sold in New Zealand may be sold in Australia, regardless of the differences in standards or other sale-related requirements between Australia and New Zealand; and
- a person registered to practise an occupation in Australia is entitled to practise an equivalent occupation in New Zealand, and a person registered to practise an occupation in New Zealand is entitled to practice an equivalent occupation in Australia, without the need to undergo further testing or examination.
The MRA and the TTMRA can be accessed at www.education.gov.au/mutual-recognition.
For further information regarding mutual recognition and the application of the Mutual Recognition Act 1992
and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997
, please contact the Economic Reform Unit.