Part 4: Registration and licensing

Inquiry into the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board: Follow-up report.

The processes and requirements for registration and licensing changed when the Act came into force. We set these out in paragraphs 4.51-4.57 of our 2010 report.

In 2010, we reported that:

  • the Board's systems for processing registration and licensing applications worked reasonably well;
  • the Board's record keeping had improved; but
  • we had concerns about the legality of some aspects of the Board's Registration Policy Statement and Licensing Policy Statement.

Summary of progress

The Board has addressed most of the matters that needed attention after our 2010 report. This is a considerable volume of work.

Figure 3 shows the Board's progress addressing recommendations 4, 5, and 6 in our 2010 report. Further details are provided in paragraphs 4.5-4.11 of this report.

Figure 3
The Board's progress in addressing recommendations 4, 5, and 6

We recommended that the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board:Progress by the end of 2013Relevant paragraphs in this report
4 … review its Registration Policy Statement to ensure that it complies with the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006 and administrative law principles. Complete 4.5
5 … write further policies to guide the exercise of its other powers under the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006 and, in doing so, that it carefully consider the legal basis for such policies. Complete, but see Part 3 about the sections 12-25 Exemptions Policy and the Supervision Policy. 4.9
6 … consider with the Department of Building and Housing whether the legislation needs to be amended to deal with registration and licensing issues. Continuing. The Board has submitted views to MBIE in writing three times since July 2012, and has met MBIE on other occasions. 4.10-4.11

Registration Policy Statement and Licensing Policy Statement

The Board has prescribed requirements for registration, published them as Gazette notices, and approved a new Registration Policy that came into effect on 1 December 2013. We found no problems with the new Registration Policy. The new policy clarifies how the Board works out whether an applicant for registration or licensing is a "fit and proper person" as required by sections 36, 44, and 51 of the Act. Another policy details how the Board exercises its powers to exempt people under section 52 of the Act. These policies address deficiencies that we identified in our 2010 report.

In 2010, we identified problems with the Board's Licensing Policy Statement. We discuss the exemption and supervision problems in Part 3 of this report. Part 4 of our 2010 report contains more details on the other matters we identified. In summary, these were:

  • registered and certifying gasfitters were required to participate in gas audits as a condition of their licence, but we could see no clear legal basis for this; and
  • the Licensing Policy Statement provided for provisional licences only for overseas applicants, when there might be other instances where it is appropriate to grant a provisional licence. We queried whether the Board could grant provisional licences to overseas people in the way that it was proposing.

On 13 November 2012, the Board adopted a new Licensing Policy. On 11 February 2014, it reviewed the Licensing Policy. The Board has removed the requirement for gasfitters to participate in gas audits from the terms and conditions of their licences.6 Therefore, this requirement does not appear in the Licensing Policy.

The Board has amended the section on provisional licences in the Licensing Policy. The Registrar may now give any applicant a provisional licence to carry out specified sanitary plumbing, gasfitting, or drainlaying while the Board considers their application for a practising licence application under section 45. A separate policy deals with provisional licences for tradespeople from overseas.

Policy development

In 2010, we recommended that the Board prepare additional policies to guide the exercise of its other powers under the Act. In Part 2, we discuss some aspects of policy development. Eighteen policies have been put in place, which is a considerable amount of work. All of these policies are in a planned programme of review, at intervals no greater than three years. We saw evidence of such reviews being carried out.

Legislative changes

Section 187 of the Act requires MBIE to review the operation of the Act and consider whether amendments to the Act are necessary. MBIE is required to report on this to the Minister for Building and Construction.

The Act came into effect in 2010. MBIE's review of the Act began in late 2013. At the time we were writing this report, MBIE was approving the terms of reference. The Board has met MBIE staff a few times to discuss the review. It has made three formal detailed submissions to MBIE since March 2012, the most recent in November 2013. We have seen the Board's detailed submissions. MBIE will seek submissions from other relevant parties as part of the review.

6: The Board carried out gas audits to check the competency of craftsman gasfitters. See Part 6 of our 2010 report for more details.

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