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Engineer in Chief for Western Australia

Western Australia's infrastructure and planning is run by bean counters and lawyers. 

According to Bill Koul, Candidate for Bateman and Civil Engineer, "There is no vision to bring WA into the 21st Century.  It's the same old, same old story."

The Western Australia Party stands for the recommencement of the position of Engineer-in-Chief in Western Australia, such as one served by the legendary C Y O’Connor, who was appointed as Western Australia’s first Engineer-in-Chief by Sir John Forrest, the first premier of Western Australia, on 26 May 1891.

After O’Connor’s untimely and tragic death in 1902, only three appointees served WA as Engineer-in-Chief: Charles Palmer (1902-1904), James Thompson (1904-1925) and Frank Stileman (1925- 1930). Following a re-organisation of Public Works in 1930, Edward Tindale, who was Commissioner of Main Roads at that time, took on the additional role of Director of Works and Building. 

Mr Koul said "It's been 90 years since Western Australia had an Engineer-in-Chief. It is time that this position is again created to lay a robust foundation of a sustainable, vibrant and roaring state of Australia." 

Let's make this happen... Vote 1 Western Australia Party.

 

Background context by Bill Koul for Bateman, January 2021

The work of engineers facilitates and affects most aspects of people’s daily lives, starting from our homes; commute to and from work; long distance travel; medicine and health; sports; visual and performing arts; entertainment and communication. Our daily lives are intertwined and dependent on various aspects and branches of engineering — civil, electrical, electronics and communication, mechanical, aeronautical, automobile, chemical etc. — in our homes, on the road, at our work places and in most other activities. 

The Western Australia Party does not want to see any repeats of the roof collapse incident of Curtin University of October 2020, which cost a 23-year-old apprentice his life while as two other young workers were seriously injured. We also don’t want to see any incidences like Sydney’s Opal Tower infamous structural issues, which led to sudden evacuation of its hundreds of residents in August 2019 when they heard loud cracking noises that sparked their fears of the building collapse.

To save Western Australian householders and end-users from suffering or paying for any substandard work carried out by a range of service providers – engineers, builders, technicians, manufacturers and material suppliers etc. – the government must introduce all necessary measures to meet the interests of Western Australians. For example, a house must not see collapse of its ceilings or retaining walls or any structural damage to its foundations – leading to its settlement and/or cracking in the superstructure – or any defects in its electrical and plumbing work that render the house unsafe or unhealthy for the house dwellers. Any structure – residential or commercial – must service its intended purpose over it design life without any safety or serviceability issues or any unexpected or excessive maintenance issues.

(a) Mandatory Registration of Engineers in Western Australia

Given the unquestionably paramount importance of engineering work, it is necessary that the community becomes aware about engineers and how they work silently and serve the community and provide their input in making general life easier, quicker and better. Therefore, the engineering profession must get its due recognition in the broader community. As service to the end-users, and for their safety and a sustainable infrastructural development on the whole, the established engineering principles and standards must be followed in letter and spirit by the engineering professionals. As a logical step, therefore, engineers should be empowered and, at the same time, also made accountable for their work, which includes engineering designs, technical reports construction drawings, Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC).

Similar to medical professionals, to uphold the highest standards of engineering and Engineers Australia’s Code of Ethics, engineering professionals must be required to register with a statutory body in Western Australia to obtain the practicing license and be eligible for undertaking professional engineering work, which includes engineering design and technical reports, specifications, design and construction drawings.

For registration, it must be necessary to follow the pathway(s) required by Australia’s highest engineering professional body, Engineers Australia, including attaining the Chartered Professional Engineer’s status, similar to Queensland (RPEQ), which has the process in place for the last 90 years. Following Queensland’s lead, in 2019, Victoria also passed the Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019, which will come into effect on 1 July 2021. More recently, in June 2020, the New South Wales Parliament also passed new laws to introduce a registration scheme for professional engineers, which also come into effect on 1 July 2021 and 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. 

(b) Appointment of Engineer-in-Chief in Western Australia

In addition to the mandatory registration of engineers, the Western Australia Party stands for the recommencement of the position of Engineer-in-Chief in Western Australia, such as one served by the legendary CY O’Connor, who was appointed as Western Australia’s first Engineer-in-Chief by Sir John Forrest, the first premier of Western Australia, on 26 May 1891. After O’Connor’s untimely and tragic death in 1902, only three appointees served WA as Engineer-in-Chief: Charles Palmer (1902-1904), James Thompson (1904-1925) and Frank Stileman (1925- 1930). Following a re-organisation of Public Works in 1930, Edward Tindale, who was Commissioner of Main Roads at that time, took on the additional role of Director of Works and Building. 

It has now been 90 years since Western Australia had an Engineer-in-Chief. It is time that this position is again created to lay a robust foundation of a sustainable, vibrant and roaring state of Australia. 

References

·         Barkla C., Create, Engineers Australia. The push for professional engineers registration in NSW makes it through, June 4 2020; accessed on 30 November 2020.

·         Engineers Australia, The Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 successfully passed through the Victorian Legislative Council as a result of Engineers Australia's advocacy; accessed on 30 November 2020.

·         MEDIA RELEASE | Engineers Australia welcomes compulsory registration of engineers; accessed on 30 November 2020.

·         Professional Engineers Registration Scheme; accessed on 30 November 2020.

·         Tauman, M.B., O'Connor, Charles Yelverton (1843–1902), Australian Dictionary of Biography; accessed on 30 November 2020.

·        Western Australia’s Engineer-in-Chief, History West, July 2020, Spotlight on Members’ Research; accessed on 30 November 2020.

  

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