HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [6.15 pm]: I want to speak tonight because we have limited opportunities before we end up rising for the year. I want to talk about the issue of engineering registration. The timeliness of this issue for me is that last night I attended the Association of Professional Engineers Australia division annual general meeting, where I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak on a panel about the need for a mandatory registration scheme for engineers. It is a position that the Greens have been very supportive of, and quite publicly so. So members know, Queensland has had a mandatory registration scheme for engineers for about 20 years. Queensland has really been leading the charge on this, but it has effectively been alone in that. Importantly, people who are not registered may not provide engineering services in Queensland. I note that Victoria has been in the process of debating legislation that is very similar to that of Queensland. That will have to be reintroduced, because there is obviously a new government, but it is expected that with a thumping Labor Party majority, it will go through. Currently in other states the registration of engineers, if it is required, and it is not required in all states, pertains only to building construction, not to all the other fields in which engineers currently work. We are quite lucky that in Australia our engineers are largely well educated. They are extremely professional and they take their role in public safety very seriously. However, I note that the engineers themselves are calling for a mandatory registration scheme, and they are very strongly of the view that it is still an essential element to the ongoing development of their profession.
Engineers provide services to a wide range of sectors across Australia, but unfortunately there is no nationally consistent registration scheme, and we do need one. We need one to ensure the currency of engineers’ skills and knowledge and to ensure the specificity of their skills and knowledge. We need to protect the title of engineer. At the moment anyone can go out and call themselves an engineer, even if they do not have any official qualifications. That also helps to ensure the quality of engineering services on offer. We have seen nationally consistent registration standards come into many fields and trades across Australia, and these standards allow everyone across Australia to understand what is required and what can be expected of someone who has attained registration, regardless of where they trained. The ACT and WA governments have expressed an interest in proceeding with some additional form of registration for engineers, and I am strongly encouraging the WA government to keep working on this. The peak engineering bodies are strongly behind the need to ensure that a mandatory registration scheme is enacted, but it is going to be vitally important to ensure that whatever scheme we have is nationally consistent.
We are hopefully beginning the journey of moving down the path of individual state legislation. Yesterday in Parliament I asked the Minister for Commerce and Industrial Relations, represented by the Minister for Regional Development, what was happening in this area, and it was noted that it is on the agenda as part of the Building Ministers’ Forum. Sadly, I note it is only on the agenda in relation to engineers in the building industry. I acknowledge this is a start, but I am encouraging the WA government to expand its view and look at the Victorian and Tasmanian models, which I note the engineering bodies themselves seem to think are pretty well done. I also encourage working with other state governments, as well as industry and training bodies, to create a more comprehensive system that reflects the importance of more fields of engineering. Ultimately, this is about an issue of public safety and I think that it is an area that needs to be prioritised.