Engineering registration in NSW. Will Canberra be next to legislate?

Earlier this month, NSW Parliament passed a new law that will require professional engineers to be registered to practise. It is expected that Canberra will be next to legislate.
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Engineering registration in NSW. Will Canberra be next to legislate?

With the overwhelming support of members, Engineers Australia advocated strongly for compulsory registration of engineers and played a leading role in achieving the reform. Due to similar changes in Victoria last year and the long-standing laws in Queensland, from 1 July 2021 registration will apply in NSW, Victoria and Queensland – covering the three largest states for engineering work and roughly 75% of the Australian economy. 

It is expected that Canberra will be next to legislate. We have formed a member working group to support and advise the ACT Government where requested. This group consists of the following members: Therese Flapper, Kevin Earle, Alan Thompson, Belinda Thomson, Robert Care, Darren Sault and Jeff Bollard. During the NSW campaign, Engineers Australia engaged its members through a series of consultation sessions to provide information and support. We will look to follow a similar process within the ACT. 

Key facts about the NSW law 

  • The new laws for engineer registration will apply to engineers working in any industry. This is despite the new rules being embedded in legislation that is otherwise concerned with building sector reform. 

  • Registration laws will initially apply to professional engineers in the five fields of civil, structural, electrical, mechanical and fire safety engineering. Additional areas of engineering can be added via Regulation. 

  • The laws will apply to anyone wishing to provide professional engineering services, unless if doing so under the direct supervision of an appropriately registered engineer, or if the work is only provided in accordance with a document that states the procedure or criteria for carrying out the work and the work does not require the application of advanced scientifically based calculations. 

  • It will be an offence for a person to falsely claim to be registered as a professional engineer. 

  • The benchmark required to be registered will be provided in Regulations which are expected to be finalised in 2020. Engineers Australia will advocate for strong minimum standards in terms of qualifications, experience and commitment to “Continuing Professional Development” and for the standards to be aligned with other jurisdictions. 

  • Registered engineers will be required to be adequately insured. 

  • The new laws will commence on 1 July 2021. 

Next Steps for NSW registration  

Before the provisions of the act commence, supporting regulations must be created. This is likely to take several months with expected completion by the end of 2020. We look forward to working with our members throughout this process.  

The Regulations will provide detail on the minimum requirements to be registered and the process for an individual to join the register. Engineers Australia will be advocating for status on the National Engineering Register (NER), or status as a Chartered Professional Engineer, to be enough evidence of suitability for the Government scheme. 

This would make the process very simple for anyone currently on the NER or Chartered. Similarly, anyone who is a Registered Professional Engineer QLD (RPEQ) will be entitled to be registered in NSW. It is likely that, in both cases, a form will need to be completed and a fee paid to the NSW Government, however the time and money associated with an initial competence assessment would be waived. 

We will provide further communications over the coming months with updates on the process and how you can get involved. 

Please visit our website to view the recordings of our consultation sessions, along with member and staff interviews.