The Better Business Reforms aim to create opportunities for small businesses by reducing costs and complexity without reducing consumer protections. The reforms also increase transparency and protections in consumer transactions, without overly burdening businesses.
There are more than 40 reforms in the Better Business Reforms package, most of which are contained in the Fair Trading Legislation Amendment (Reform) Act 2018 and the Fair Trading Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous) Act 2018 which were passed by the NSW Parliament in late 2018.
What's happened so far?
The reforms result from a comprehensive review of legislation in the Better Regulation portfolio, in consultation with business and the wider community.
In July 2018, the NSW government released the Easy and Transparent Trading Consultation Paper. Feedback was sought on an extensive set of consumer and small business reforms designed to cut red tape while improving consumer protection.
The resulting reforms passed Parliament and a range of tasks are currently underway to implement reforms which have not yet commenced. The Better Business Reforms Implementation Options Paper was released in November 2018 to consider implementation options.
Some reforms will require supporting Regulations to be developed, or administrative and system changes before they can be implemented. At this stage, all reforms are expected to commence on or before 1 July 2020.
On 31 October 2018 these reforms started
- dissolving redundant Ministerial Advisory Councils and the Products Safety Committee
- enabling documents to be served electronically (across all Better Regulation laws) and removing requirements for using registered post
- removing advertising restrictions duplicated by the Australian Consumer Law
- enabling documents to be signed and executed by certain organisations without the need for an official seal
- repealing the uncommenced Regulatory and Other Legislation (Amendments and Repeals) Act 2016 and Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2000.
On 28 February 2019 these reforms started
Void terms in non-disclosure agreements
Any terms in a non-disclosure agreement that limit a consumer’s ability to make a complaint to NSW Fair Trading are now void. Consumers must be informed of their ongoing right to lodge a complaint with Fair Trading either before or at the time of entering into a non-disclosure agreement.
Architects' age restriction
The minimum age requirement of 21 years of age to register with the NSW Architects Registration Board has been removed. This allows suitably qualified individuals to be registered as an architect, regardless of age.
Architects online lodgement
It is no longer banned for registration documents to be submitted online. This will help streamline and modernise the registration process.
Display of licence numbers in advertising
The requirement for motor dealers, repairers and recyclers to display licence numbers in all advertising has been removed. Licence number details will still need to be displayed at business premises and can also be obtained by searching the online register.
Time period for restoring licences for motor dealers, repairers and recyclers
NSW Fair Trading now has the discretionary power to restore a licence or a tradesperson certificate under the Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013 beyond the standard 3 month cut off date.
Keeping records of ex-employees
Conveyancers and real estate agents are no longer required to maintain records of ex-employees, after their employment ceases.
Associations exemptions and information sharing
The ability to exempt an association from financial reporting requirements and to enter into information sharing arrangements has been clarified.
Fair Trading can now prescribe information standards for the supply of any goods or services, due to a general regulation-making power in the Fair Trading Act 1987. This reform also includes an offence provision for non-compliance.
On 1 July 2019 these reforms started
Changes to Starr-Bowkett Societies and Co-operative Housing Societies
The formation or registration of new Starr-Bowkett societies can no longer occur and new members cannot be admitted to existing Starr-Bowkett societies. Existing societies can continue to operate under the current legislation.
The formation or registration of new Co-operative Housing Societies can no longer occur. However, existing societies can continue to operate under the current legislation and new members may still be admitted.
Repeal of the Innkeepers Act 1968
The Innkeepers Act 1968 has been repealed and relevant provisions that are to have an ongoing effect have been transferred and retained in the Fair Trading Act 1987. Click here for further details.
Repeal of the Prices Regulation Act 1948
The redundant Prices Regulation Act 1948 has been largely repealed. Click here for further details.
Repeal of the Landlord Tenant (Amendment) Act 1948
The Landlord Tenant (Amendment) Act 1948 has been repealed but will continue to apply to any remaining ‘protected tenants’ under savings provisions inserted in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. Click here for further details.
Repeal of the Rural Workers Accommodation Act 1969
The Rural Workers Accommodation Act 1969 has been repealed, however, relevant provisions that are to have an ongoing effect are retained in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. See SafeWork website for further details.
Trust Account Audits for Conveyancers and Real Estate Agents
Licenced conveyancers and real estate agents will no longer have to submit a copy of their audit report to NSW Fair Trading. This report will only need to be submitted by their auditor. All trust account audits can now be lodged with Fair Trading through a new online platform called Auditors Report Online . To access the portal, please visit the trust account auditors page.
Reforms that are yet to start
The Better Business Reforms includes the following reforms. These have not yet started, as further work is required to implement them:
- Extending and harmonising licence durations and restoration periods
- Ongoing licences for 13 home building trades
- Notice of key terms in consumer contracts
- Disclosure of commissions and referral fees
- New specialised classes for motor vehicle repairers
- Exemptions from tow truck licensing requirements
- Caravan/Recreational Vehicle LP gas and electrical licence category
- Trading out of external administration
- Streamlining the regulation of uncollected goods
- Notification of Motor Dealer trade locations
- Online portal of registers
- Changing approval processes for required forms
- Rental bond rollover scheme
- Strata utilities freedom of choice
At this stage, all reforms are expected to commence on or before 1 July 2020. Updates will be provided on this page on the reforms still to be implemented.