Mutual Recognition

Mutual recognition arrangements aim to reduce inefficiencies and regulatory barriers. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has responsibility for the goods aspects of the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 and the Trans-Tasman Recognition Act 1997.

Mutual recognition arrangements improve the movement of labour and goods, both in the national market and between Australia and New Zealand. To achieve these effects, there are two agreements:

  • the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA); and
  • the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA).  

The Mutual Recognition Agreement sets out the principles whereby Commonwealth legislation, the Mutual Recognition Act 1992, implements the domestic arrangement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments of Australia.
The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 relates to how:

  • goods that can be lawfully sold in one Australian jurisdiction are sold in other Australian jurisdictions without having to meet additional requirements; and
  • people registered to practise an occupation in one Australian jurisdiction are entitled to practise an equivalent occupation in other Australian jurisdictions.

Detailed information about mutual recognition of licensed/registered occupations can be found on the Licence Recognition website.

A natural extension of the Mutual Recognition Agreement, the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement is a non-treaty agreement between Australian governments and the New Zealand Government under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 applies the mutual recognition principles relating to the sale of goods and the registration of occupations between Australia and New Zealand. These principles, with a few exceptions, state that a:

  • good that may legally be sold in Australia may be sold in New Zealand, and a good that may be legally sold in New Zealand may be sold in Australia. This is regardless of differences in standards or other sale-related regulatory requirements between Australia and New Zealand; and
  • person registered to practise an occupation in Australia is entitled to practise an equivalent occupation in New Zealand, and vice versa, without the need for further testing or examination.

The Mutual Recognition Agreement and/or the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement can be downloaded from the Council of Australian Governments website.

Benefits of mutual recognition

Mutual recognition provides a simple, low cost and low maintenance mechanism for overcoming unnecessary regulatory impediments to trade in goods and the movement of skilled practitioners within Australia and between Australia and New Zealand. Benefits flowing from the arrangements include:

  • lower costs to business and improved competitiveness from being able to manufacture to a single standard;
  • greater choice for consumers;
  • greater cooperation between regulatory authorities; and
  • increased opportunities for Australians to work across the country, and for Australians and New Zealanders to work in each other's country.

The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 do not affect laws that regulate the manner in which:

  • people working in a regulated occupation are registered; or
  • goods are sold or laws relating to quarantine; endangered species; firearms and other prohibited or offensive weapons; fireworks; indecent material; ozone protection; agricultural and veterinary chemicals; gaming machines; therapeutic goods; road vehicles; certain radio communications equipment; hazardous substances; industrial chemicals and dangerous goods; and gas appliance standards.

Both agreements incorporate a Temporary Exemption mechanism giving participating jurisdictions the right to ban unilaterally, for 12 months, the sale of goods in their jurisdiction for health and safety reasons. Before the Temporary Exemption expires, the Ministerial Council responsible for the affected good is required to determine whether a particular standard should apply to the good, and if so, the appropriate standard.

Both agreements cover all occupations where some form of legislation-based registration, certification, licensing, approval, admission or other form of authorisation is required by individuals to legally practise the occupation. Only the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement includes an exemption for medical practitioners. An overseas trained doctor's registration is not mutually recognised. However, doctors with primary medical qualifications obtained in New Zealand are automatically granted general registration in Australia and vice-versa under separate arrangements.

The recognition of qualifications does not fall under the mutual recognition arrangements. The Department of Education and Training, through the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) provides advice for recognition of qualifications to work in specific professional level occupations. The Department of Education and Training also provides skills assessments through Trades Recognition Australia for people with trade skills gained overseas or in Australia, for the purpose of migration and skills recognition.

Users’ guide

A Users’ Guide to the Mutual Recognition Agreement and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement is available to assist people in Australia and New Zealand understand the arrangements. It also aims to give people a clearer understanding of what their rights and responsibilities are under each scheme.

Download the Users’ guide:

Governance arrangements

The Cross Jurisdictional Review Forum was established by the Council of Australian Governments to monitor the operation of the mutual recognition schemes, implement findings from the Australian Productivity Commission’s five-yearly reviews of the schemes and to maintain the currency of the ministerial declarations for licensed occupations. It includes representatives from the Australian, state and territory governments and the Government of New Zealand.

The forum includes representatives from the Australian, state and territory governments and the Government of New Zealand. Forum members act as the point of contact for mutual recognition matters within their jurisdiction.
Download the 2009 Cross Jurisdictional Review Progress Report:

Useful links

Contacts

Graeme Wolff
Manager, Trade Facilitation
Trade and International Branch 
Email: graeme.wolff@industry.gov.au
Ph: +61 2 6213 7357

Lauren Clift (recognition of occupations)
Director, Skills Mobility Policy, Skills Market Group
Department of Education and Training
Email: mutualrecognition@education.gov.au
Ph: +61 2 6240 5163

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