Although the New South Wales Parliament is physically distancing to help flatten the curve, the issue of engineers registration in the state is still on the table.
Like many things at the moment, NSW’s move to legislate registration of engineers has been put on hold while the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic. But Australia’s peak engineering body is working to make sure the issue stays top-of-mind for when the NSW Parliament reconvenes in six months.
Engineers registration for NSW has been floated before as part of reforms to the state’s building and construction industry. The Design and Building Practitioners Bill, proposed late last year, initially only included requirements for registration for engineers who work on apartment buildings.
However, Engineers Australia has been advocating intensely to broaden the scope of the proposed legislation, citing concerns that such a narrow focus would not adequately address recommendations made in the Building Confidence report, produced in 2018 by Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir; it would also be a missed opportunity to apply registration to engineers in other industries.
These efforts have generated results. The current trajectory for engineers registration in NSW is for passage of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill with an amendment to include a comprehensive registration scheme that will apply to engineering in all industries – not just the building sector.
Prior to Parliament adjourning in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Engineers Australia National Manager for Public Affairs and Policy Advocacy Jonathan Russell said moving the dial on engineers registration would reflect the government’s commitments in response to the organisation’s advocacy efforts.
The state’s Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson has said he will put his full support behind comprehensive registration for engineers.
“Engineers should be registered, but we need to do it in a staged approach to address the critical issues,” he said in an interview with local paper The Northern Daily Leader.
In addition, “NSW Labor went to the last state election in March 2019 with a commitment to register engineers across all industries,” Russell said earlier this year.
“The challenge has always been to get to a point where both major parties are able to deliver the right policy outcomes together.”
Until recently, Engineers Australia has also been hosting a series of consultations within the state to keep members of the profession informed about the issue and elicit feedback on how registration might work in NSW. The most recent workshop was held in Tamworth.
NSW Northern Group Chair Ben Mobilio said registration is a topic that comes up frequently when the organisation speaks with engineering professionals in the area. He added that after hearing Anderson’s comments, he is optimistic about seeing a registration scheme introduced in the near future.
“Anderson said he would like to see engineers registered, and Engineers Australia would like to make it happen. He seems very supportive,” Mobilio said at the time of the consultation event.
“I think this provides a firmer footing for Engineers Australia in terms of getting registration in NSW over the line.”
The Government was expected to put its proposal for engineers registration before Parliament in late March 2020. However, Parliament adjourned before any further discussion could be had.
Despite this, Russell has confirmed Engineers Australia will continue to work closely with the State Government to ensure that efforts to introduce a registration scheme for NSW engineers continue once the COVID-19 crisis has eased.
You can stay up to date on the latest registration developments at the Engineers Australia website. Click here to learn more.