According to the Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019, recently passed in the upper house, those doing work in structural engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or fire safety engineering must be registered unless they are either labouring under the supervision of a registered engineer or are completing work which coincides with a prescriptive standard.
Registration will be granted through the Building Licensing Authority.
An assessment scheme will be created to decide the qualifications and experience required for registration.
Those engineers employed in the building industry who want to perform certain functions under the Building Act 1993 will require an endorsement from the Victorian Building Authority, declaring that they are a qualified professional to earn this endorsement.
The process of mandatory registration is supported by organisations like Engineering Australia, who support a safety imperative for some kinds of engineering work to be performed only by those who display the qualifications and expertise needed to perform the work specified.
Jonathan Russell, National Manager – Public Affairs at Engineers Australia, praised the legislation, calling it a major step forward for the building industry and for public safety. He cites the next step as a development of rules to coincide with the legislation – a process likely to require a time investment of a few months.
Afterward, engineers will be required to apply for registration. The changes will not be immediate, however.
The Bill has passed both Parliamentary houses, but was opposed by the Liberal Party.
Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley said that the Bill levied added costs for the engineering profession, for benefits not clearly specified—especially for those working in rural and regional areas.
Staley also stated that Victoria has a licensing scheme in place to implement the registration of building practitioners, including building engineers, with the Victorian Building Authority.
New South Wales, by comparison, has no engineering registration and has experienced issues with structural deficiencies in high-rise buildings.
Staley indicates that Queensland has a registration scheme similar to Victoria, yet has experienced similar issues to other states in terms of cladding.
When pressed about the registration of building professionals, including engineers, rating as the no. 1 recommendation in the Shergold Weir report, Staley specifies that Shergold and Weir argued for a nationally consistent approach, which involved the registration of a myriad of professionals.
Victoria’s scheme was a state-based regime specifying only engineers.
Engineers, said Staley, are pros who complete regular courses of continuing professional development. She does not see this bill as a workable solution to current building industry issues.