Victoria Considering Bill to Create Scheme for Registration of Professional Engineers

Friday 4 May 2018 @ 10.52 a.m. | Legal Research

The Victorian Government introduced the Engineers Registration Bill 2018 (Vic) (‘the Bill’) in the Legislative Assembly on 6 March 2018. The Bill has passed the House of Assembly and was introduced in the Legislative Council on 1 May 2018. This Bill is for the purpose of establishing a scheme for the registration of professional engineers.

The Proposed Scheme

The main elements of the scheme are for the purpose of promoting professional development within the engineering profession. The aims, as stated in the Bill’s associated Explanatory Memorandum are:

  • "engineers who work in a certain areas of engineering will be required to be registered, unless they work under the direct supervision of a registered engineer, or the work is in accordance with a prescriptive standard;
  • the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) will register applicants if satisfied the applicants meet certain eligibility requirements, including that the applicant meets certain qualification and experience requirements set out in an assessment scheme. The assessment of qualifications and  experience will be carried out by assessment entities;
  • engineers who are engaged in the building industry and who wish to perform certain functions under the Building Act 1993 will be required to hold an endorsement, which will be recommended by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) after a consideration of whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold the endorsement;
  • the BLA will approve assessment entities to assess the qualifications and experience of applicants for registration;
  • where a registered engineer has an endorsement, the VBA will rely on disciplinary and entry powers under the Building Act 1993 in relation to the endorsement; and
  • in other cases, the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) will be the lead regulator and rely on entry powers in the Bill, along with applied provisions of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012. Disciplinary proceedings will generally be conducted by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on application by the Director of CAV (the Director)."

In his second reading speech, Treasurer Tim Pallas stated that the scheme was part of the state government’s plan for infrastructure:

‘A registration scheme for engineers is an integral part of the government's plan for infrastructure. We have already established Infrastructure Victoria and the office of Projects Victoria, and appointed the chief engineer, to ensure Victoria's infrastructure is world class. We also have many new major projects under way including the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel, the West Gate tunnel and the level crossing removal project.’

On the proposed registration scheme, he stated:

‘The engineers registration scheme that the bill proposes will at its onset regulate five areas of engineering including civil engineer, structural engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer and fire-safety engineer. A separate endorsement will apply for engineers who are 'engaged in the building industry'… Registration in these specified areas will be rolled out progressively, with the regulations able to specify when engineers in an area of engineering require registration through the use of the exemption power.’

Mr Pallas also noted that the Bill provided for a new disciplinary system by two regulators:

‘The bill also sets up a disciplinary system that will see CAV or the VBA taking the lead, depending on whether an engineer has an endorsement. Where an engineer has been engaged in both building-related and non-building related engineering, if the engineer is an endorsed building engineer, the VBA will take the lead on investigating and disciplining the engineer in relation to the endorsement. This dual regulator approach has been proposed to ensure that the VBA can continue to carry out 'end to end' investigations of non-compliant building work.’

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Engineers Registration Bill 2018 (Vic), and associated second reading speech and explanatory memorandum, as published on TimeBase LawOne.

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