According to Engineers Australia CEO, Peter McIntyre, a Four Corners investigation into Australia’s apartment building crisis has highlighted the need for urgent reform.
“There’s certainly a crisis of confidence in the broader community, there’s concern amongst industry, there’s concern among organisation’s like ours, Engineers Australia, so this is a pivotal time to take action and fix it,” Mr McIntyre told the program.
A key recommendation from the landmark Building Confidence report by Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir was the creation of an engineer registration scheme for all states and territories.
Mr McIntyre said one of the organisation’s concerns is that, right now, in any state or territory other than Queensland, anybody can call themselves an engineer – even if they do not hold the appropriate qualifications.
“If you’re a doctor or a lawyer, you can’t do that. If you are a plumber or an electrician who works on a building designed by an engineer, you need to be licenced to ensure you’ve got the right skills and qualifications. Yet this is not a requirement for engineers, so that’s a major gap,” he stated.
In a national poll commissioned by Engineers Australia in July this year, 88 per cent of respondents agreed that engineers should be registered.
In NSW, that figure increased to 91 per cent and is consistently high across all demographics.
According to Mr McIntyre, a registration scheme implements ‘the right checks and balances’ to make sure that at all times the people working on jobs that involve public safety and public confidence – such as the building sector – are competent to do so.
“This will reduce error, will reduce the occurrence of major defects, will reduce the impact on the insurance premiums and the ability to obtain PI Insurance. In time, this will flow through to a better performance of assets, a better position for owner and tenants, and ultimately improve the quality of the infrastructure we build. You can be far more confident of what is built and how it’s going to perform over time if it’s properly designed.”
He urged governments to act on the recommendations of the Shergold Weir report.
“Given that the Building Ministers’ Forum endorsed the findings from the Shergold Weir Report that it received in February 2018, it’s a concern that each and every jurisdiction is not actively progressing registration,” Mr McIntyre commented.
“To each government around Australia that does not have a registration, we encourage them to give more focus to the implementations of the Shergold Weir report as a priority. We want action on this issue.”