The New South Wales (NSW) Parliament has passed new laws to introduce a registration scheme for professional engineers practising in the state.
As part of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill passed by the NSW Parliament yesterday, compulsory registration will soon apply to professional engineers in the fields of civil, structural, electrical, mechanical and fire safety engineering.
Engineers Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans welcomed the move.
“The passage of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill through the NSW Parliament is a history-making development in the regulation of professional engineers in Australia and one which will significantly benefit the community and the engineering profession,” Dr Evans said.
“It will lift professional standards for the 60,000 engineers who work in NSW and who are vital to the state’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”
While registration has been mandated in Queensland for 90 years, NSW has been slower off the mark, with incidents such as the Opal Tower evacuation highlighting the need for more stringent controls in the building industry and beyond.
“The catalyst for NSW was the Shergold-Weir report and its recommendations,” Jonathan Russell, EA National Manager for Public Affairs and Policy Advocacy, told create.
“The fact that Victoria and Queensland already had systems in law that applied to engineering practice across all industries added weight for NSW to do the same. It became obvious that NSW couldn’t be stuck in the middle with no checks and balances on professional practice.”
What does it mean for engineers?
“One of the big tasks for Engineers Australia during the next phase is to make sure that anyone who’s registered on the NER, or is chartered with EA, will also be able to use their status on those two systems as a pathway to statutory registration,” Russell said.
“Our strong argument to government is that NER and CPEng should be enough to satisfy the government that they should be registered on their system too.
“The Bill also makes it very clear that mutual recognition applies, so for anyone who is already registered in Queensland, and if people get registered in Victoria first, costs will be kept low because they’ll be entitled to be registered in NSW without any significant hoops to jump through.”
The new laws, set to commence on 1 July 2021, will apply to anyone wishing to provide professional engineering services, unless under the direct supervision of a registered engineer, or if only applying a prescriptive design.
And while five areas of engineering practice are initially covered by the Bill, additional areas of engineering might later be added via regulation.
“It provides for more [areas of practice] to be added down the track,” Russell said.
“We will definitely be wanting to work with the government this year and in the future to expand this to other areas.”
In a statement, Engineers Australia acknowledged Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, for his efforts, as well as Shadow Minister Yasmin Catley.
“This couldn’t have happened without a whole range of people in Parliament, industry and of course countless members who have provide advice during our consultation phases and supported direct engagement with Government,” Russell said.
“They understood the need and pushed really hard.”