Brendan Wong and Stacey Moseley
A NSW minister has expressed his opposition to the National Occupational Licensing Authority’s (NOLA) proposals for national licensing.
Speaking to Real Estate Business, NSW minister for fair trading Anthony Roberts said he was concerned by the lack of consultation between NOLA and the real estate industry.
“One of the key frustrations is that if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to have sincere consultation and you’ve got to give people time to raise concerns and issues, and you should be responsive to that and I think that’s been a real failure," he said.
“The feeling that I got at the start was [NOLA] had made their mind up and they weren’t going to take much notice of anything that came out from the minimal consultation.”
Mr Roberts said the issue of national licensing had been a topic frequently raised with him by real estate agents.
“I’d be surprised if a week goes by without a real estate agent expressing his or her concern to me about what NOLA could do with their profession, and that’s what it comes down to," he said.
“It’s about developing the real estate profession and if something isn’t going to assist or develop or proactively or productively improve the situation, you’ve got to answer the question, why are we doing it?”
While national licensing was good in theory, it's problematic if it comes at a significant cost to the industry, he added.
“That’s where we work closely with the REI [Real Estate Institute] because if you ever want to know what’s going on, go to the people in the industry. They’ll tell you what the problems are and chances are, they’ve got the solutions,” he said.
Mr Roberts said he was keen to ensure agents caught for criminal activities were punished adequately under the law.
“I’m proud that we are getting custodial sentences for those people in the real estate industry who steal from trust accounts,” he said.
“Gone are the days where you got a slap on the wrist, you got suspended for five years. For those bad people in the industry, we will not only get the money back that you stole, we will seek, where possible, custodial sentences.
“The bottom line is we want to see the continual push towards professionalism and protecting the brand of the industry because every time someone gets sent to jail for doing the wrong thing, that affects the brand and that’s where we need to have closer cooperation between the industry and the Office of Fair Trading - and we’re building those bridges.”
Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) CEO Tim McKibbin said he welcomed Mr Roberts’ comments.
“I was very pleased with the comments that he made in relation to wanting to work closely with the Institute for the better administration of the real estate profession,” he said.
“I welcome that and I would also welcome a dialogue along those lines to expand those opportunities.”