A Bill has been introduced into the NSW Parliament by the NSW Minister for Justice and Police that will, if passed, impose new obligations on scrap metal dealers.

The intent of the Scrap Metal Industry Bill 2016 is to help reduce property crime by closing off scrap metal dealers as a source of quick cash, by enabling transactions to be traced through the keeping of records by dealers and by increasing police powers of entry and inspection.

When introducing the Bill, the Minister referred to the unregulated and undocumented nature of the scrap metal industry in NSW and said that this had made scrap metal extremely attractive to criminals as a way to make some quick cash.

Under the Bill:

  • Businesses dealing in scrap metal must be registered. Registration is automatic. No background checks will be conducted and the conduct and competency of those operating scrap metal businesses will not be reviewed. Police cannot refuse an application for registration but it is an offence for scrap metal businesses not to register.
  • Scrap metal dealers will have new obligations and duties. They will be prohibited from paying for scrap metal in cash or in kind with goods and services. They will be under a duty to report scrap metal that is suspected to be stolen and will be prohibited from buying or disposing of unidentified motor vehicles. They will also be required to keep certain transaction records including identification details of the seller of the metal.
  • Police will have the power to issue closure orders in relation to premises that are unregistered or where the police reasonably suspect that a serious criminal offence is being committed.
  • Police will be given new powers of entry and inspection to ensure compliance with the Bill, including the power to enter premises without a warrant for the purposes of determining whether the Bill is being complied with.

It is proposed that the Act, once passed, will be reviewed after three years of operation to determine whether it is meeting its objectives.

The Bill is currently in the Legislative Assembly awaiting the second reading speech debate. It is not clear at this stage when the Bill, if enacted, would come into force.