Victoria has reached a milestone on its path to passing the Engineers Registration Bill 2019.
Late last week, the Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 passed through Victoria’s Legislative Assembly. The final vote count was 52 votes in favour and 22 votes against.
Government members, together with two Greens members and the independent members for Mildura and Shepparton all voted in favour of the legislation.
Engineers Australia General Manager – Victoria, Alesha Printz, said the association has been an advocate for engineers registration for some time. Its calls for action have been bolstered by support from an “overwhelming majority” of Engineers Australia’s Victoria-based members, she added.
According to Printz, compulsory registration for engineers in the state would result in higher safety standards and protections for communities.
“At present, consumers have no real way of knowing whether they are dealing with an engineer who is currently qualified and competent, or if an engineer maintains standards through ongoing professional development and if they are bound by a code of conduct,” she said in a statement.
“Doctors, architects and lawyers have to register to practice, but engineers do not, meaning that any person can ‘hang out their shingle’ and call themselves an engineer, even if they are not an engineer.
“The legislation states that a person who is not a registered professional engineer must not use the title ‘professional engineer’.”
She drew comparisons to the Architects Registration Board of Victoria, which has firm definitions of who may and who may not call themselves an architect.
“[It] clearly states on its homepage that ‘an architect is a person who is registered with the Architects Registration Board of Victoria’ and that ‘no-one else can use the title’. Why shouldn’t it be the same for engineers?,” she said.
Printz said the bill has received support from industry and the community. Previous consultations between Engineers Australia and its Victorian members indicated the majority support compulsory registration.
“In addition, public polling has shown that the Victorian community is strongly supportive, with 93 per cent of respondents in a recent poll saying they thought engineers should be ‘registered or licensed’,” she added.
The Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 still has a few hurdles to clear, including passing through the Legislative Council, where it will likely be debated at the end of May.
With this in mind, Printz said it’s too early to provide more detailed information about what the bill means for engineers within the state.
A previous version of the bill was proposed in early 2018, but it did not pass. Currently Queensland is the only state with mandatory registration for engineers. In light of events like the recent Opal Tower fiasco, calls for mandatory registration of engineers have been growing in New South Wales as well.
Printz added that Engineers Australia will continue to monitor the legislative process to ensure there are “no unintended negative consequences for our profession”.
She invited engineers and members of Engineers Australia to continue to provide feedback as the legislation moves through government, as well as consult with available literature, including FAQ documents like this one, about what the Engineers Registration Bill 2019 will mean for the profession.
We will continue to post updates as this story develops.