March 18, 2015  |  Second Reading

Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Hairdressing Registration) Bill 2015

Mr HOWARD(Buninyong) — I am certainly delighted to be able to speak on the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Hairdressing Registration) Bill 2015. As we have heard from previous speakers, this bill relates to an issue which is very close to my heart — that is, hairdressing. Over many years I have spent a lot of time with hairdressers, and I have to say that I am occasionally a little disappointed with the results. I guess there is only so much you can do over a period of time.

I am pleased to have dealt with so many different hairdressers across my electorate — sometimes as a client but more often perhaps not as a client. I often visit as a former teacher of somebody who is now working in a hairdressing or beauty salon. I have been very pleased over the years, even up until last year, to visit my local TAFE because it has a great course in hairdressing. I am pleased to say that the hairdressing course is continuing, but unfortunately the beauty therapy courses that were offered at Federation University TAFE were discontinued as a result of the cuts in TAFE funding under the former government. That was disappointing to the students who were undertaking those courses at the time. Right across my electorate, and I include Hepburn shire from my former electorate, beauty therapy is a major employer, as is hairdressing, which is why I am very sorry to see that those young people were not able to be trained or do those TAFE courses that they had previously been able to do. The opportunities for them to go into those sorts of jobs have been lost. That is a source of great disappointment to me.

The bill before the house relates to this government’s commitment to cutting red tape wherever possible to support our small businesses. As we have heard from other speakers, something like 4000 small businesses across the state provide hairdressing or beauty treatments. They are generally very small, owner-run businesses, perhaps with two or three additional staff, although there are some bigger academies around, some of which are in my electorate. This government is satisfied that, while we always need to ensure that health and safety regulations are followed by any business in any industry and local governments have a responsibility to review those issues, hairdressing and beauty therapy do not present great health risks and therefore the need to have annual registration fees is believed to be a case of overkill.

This bill provides the opportunity to have one-off registrations, which will mean a saving of $170 on average per year for hairdressing and beauty salons across the state. The bill will also reduce the amount of paperwork councils will need to follow up on and the number of visits needed to be made by environmental health officers. These visits would normally occur once a year to justify the registration by checking that the premises are clean and tidy, but we believe this is no longer necessary. A council health regulator should be able to go to a premises and decide whether its operators are able to ensure a clean, well-managed environment without creating any health risks. Certainly that has always been my experience of hairdressers: they are always very keen to ensure that their premises are clean, tidy and healthy. It is worth clarifying that this change does not apply to businesses that offer more invasive treatments such as body piercing or tattooing. This sort of business will continue to require that extra health assessment by councils and attract annual registrations. This bill enables hairdressers to save on their annual registration.

The bill recognises that there should be a balance between the burden of paperwork and an appropriate level of requirements to be met by a business in a particular industry. If a business is able to demonstrate that it is healthy and not presenting any threats to those who enter its premises, we do not need to pursue them for extra money and paperwork or carry out additional inspections.

Like all other members who have spoken on this bill, I am pleased that it has bipartisan support and that it should be able to move through both houses fairly quickly so these savings will accrue from next year and so from 2016 the onus will be that affected businesses will only have to make one payment from thereon, which will mean ongoing savings.

The hairdressing industry is an important industry across my electorate and my contribution to it is not necessarily personal. I know that in particular the women in my family value hairdressers in my community and seem to spend plenty of my well-earnt money on supporting hairdressing establishments. I am more than happy that this occurs so the women in my family can feel good about themselves and the treatment they receive gives them great satisfaction. I will not say too much more by going down that path.

In days gone by I have attempted to go to some of the fancier hairdressers in town where the hairdressers have you put your head back and then wash your hair, which is also a nice experience. When I travelled to India I had the opportunity to go to hairdressers there. Of course hairdressers in India are not affected by this legislation; however, those hairdressers give you a full head massage and thump your head so that you go away feeling a lot better. Unfortunately that experience did not result in a lot of extra hair growth on my part. Nevertheless, when I was in India and went to those hairdressers a few years ago I did find that I learnt a bit about ways of undertaking hairdressing practices at different salons in various parts of the world.

As I said, I am pleased to support this bill. I would love to see more young people in my electorate being able to go on to learn the art of hairdressing and the art of beauty treatment, which they had previously been able to do. I am also looking forward to this government supporting our TAFE institutes again so that courses that were run in my area that no longer run are able to be run again and at affordable prices for those people who undertake them. I want to see the hairdressing and beauty industry continue to flourish in this state and continue to benefit many people across my electorate.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr NORTHE (Morwell).

Debate adjourned until later this day.