The Victorian parliament has passed legislation to introduce compulsory registration of engineers.
The move is in line with the recommendations of the Building Confidence implementation plan, which seeks to restore the public’s trust in Australia’s building industry. Top priority in the plan is a consistent national approach to the registration of those involved in the design, construction and maintenance of buildings. This includes builders, engineers and designers.
The Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 will see a scheme established for the registration of professional engineers to promote best practice. It will cover structural engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, fire safety engineering, and any other prescribed area of engineering. The Victorian scheme is modelled closely on the existing scheme in Queensland.
How will it work?
Registration in the different areas will be rolled out progressively, and other areas may be added later. Once rolled out to a particular area of engineering, registration will be compulsory.
The bill will also prohibit those who are unregistered from referring to themselves as a “registered professional engineer” if they do not have the appropriate qualifications and they are not registered.
The registration scheme will be managed by the Business Licensing Authority (BLA), with support from Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), approved assessment entities, and the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). Once the scheme comes into effect, the BLA will take over registration functions for professional engineers.
“This is a historic development and one which is set to bring broad and long-lasting benefits to the wider community and the engineering profession,” says Engineers Australia CEO Peter McIntyre.
“The legislation passed in Victoria is a great example for other states, particularly New South Wales, to replicate to help restore public confidence.”
Time to act for NSW
The passing of the bill puts added pressure on New South Wales to establish a similar scheme. It has also raised concerns about the standard of future work in that state.
“This is a big problem for the state government,” wrote Chris Walton in the Sydney Morning Herald. “Unless it acts, we expect to see hundreds – if not thousands – of unqualified ‘engineers’ crossing the border from Victoria, so they can keep practising. Sydney’s major projects will become a harbour for dodgy engineers.”
The Victorian government will develop the regulations over the coming months, in consultation with industry stakeholders.