Union wants bouncers loophole closed
A union says local companies are offering false letters of employment to NSW bouncers for $200 each. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
The security workers union has alleged local companies are helping interstate bouncers to fraudulently obtain security licences in the ACT by selling them fake letters of employment.
United Voice's ACT branch said yesterday that bouncers from NSW are avoiding the state's strict security licensing laws by gaining accreditation in the ACT, and then having it recognised in their home state by abusing a loophole in federal law.
Union organiser Christy Gallagher said local companies were offering false letters of employment to NSW bouncers for $200 each, allowing the prospective bouncers to fraudulently prove to the ACT government they intended to work in the territory.
United Voice has stopped short of naming individual companies, but called on the ACT government to clean up the ''bad apples'' operating in the ACT's security industry.
''We'd like them to come in and sit down with us and some of the major employers in the ACT and discuss some of the things we can do to close these loopholes,'' Ms Gallagher said. The Canberra Times revealed late last year that 2359 bouncers from NSW came to the ACT to obtain their security licence, under relatively lax requirements, between January 2008 and last November.
The ABC's 7.30 program revealed this week the startling ease with which a trainee bouncer can obtain a security licence in Queensland, and then have it recognised in NSW under federal law.
Inadequate training provided in the ACT has been linked with at least one death in NSW.
Father-of-four Paul Ahsin, 40, choked to death while being restrained by two bouncers outside a Campbelltown pub in April 2010.
The two bouncers were eventually cleared by the NSW Coroner over the death. But in the coroner's findings, it was noted that both bouncers were trained in the ACT and had inadequate knowledge of positional asphyxiation.
The body representing the security industry, the Australian Security Industry Association Limited, believes the rorting of the ACT system is on the decline.
The association's manager for compliance and regulatory affairs, Peter Johnson, said changes to NSW law late last year mean that the state's bouncers no longer need to go through a strict 12-month probation period.
He said avoiding that probation period was the main reason NSW bouncers were seeking their licence in the ACT.
But Mr Johnson said the potential for abuse of mutual recognition laws still existed.
He said he hadn't seen any direct evidence of companies selling letters of employment to NSW bouncers, but said it was a real possibility.
''Could it happen? Yes it could,'' he said.
''People find those loopholes and we encourage the regulator to look at those loopholes and deal with them appropriately, with good decisions, instead of ones that make licensing nightmares for people.''
The association wants the federal government to establish a national licensing system, which would iron out any differences in training standards between states and territories.