Page 4122 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 December 2022

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The bill establishes a public register of professional engineers that are, or were, registered under the scheme. The register will enable consumers to check the details of the registered professional engineer, including conditions on the registration, as well as details of disciplinary action. The information included on the public register is limited to the minimum information required to enable consumers to make informed decisions about whether to engage a particular professional engineer. Information on the register in relation to former registered professional engineers will be removed 10 years after the day the former registered professional engineer’s registration ends.

The bill also sets up the compliance and enforcement framework, including disciplinary action that can be taken. Disciplinary sanctions for engineers under the bill are similar to those available under other licensing and/or registration schemes, with an acknowledgement of the importance of mobility of labour across the country and the smaller scale of this registration scheme compared to other occupational registration schemes operating in the ACT.

The bill takes a streamlined approach to regulation enforcement and compliance, with administrative powers assigned to the registrar designed with public safety at the forefront. The bill allows for regulatory action to be taken against engineers who fail to comply with professional obligations, who carry out engineering services without the requisite registration, who contravene the bill or a relevant law, and who give out false or misleading information about a service carried out. Offence provisions are included to deter conduct of this nature. This creates a legal and administrative framework to protect the community by ensuring that infrastructure and buildings are engineered safely and by competent, skilled and qualified people.

Throughout the bill there are a number of procedural fairness and personal information protections. These include suitability. Information required to be disclosed is limited to that which is necessary for the registrar to determine whether someone is eligible to be registered as a professional engineer. The registrar has a level of discretion in determining whether suitability information makes an applicant not suitable for registration. An individual whose application for registration or renewal is refused may seek to have this decision reviewed internally and then seek an ACAT review of the review’s decision. The public register will not include details of a professional or former professional engineer where their inclusion would or could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any person, or jeopardise national security.

The ACT government is committed to having in place a robust and proportionate regulatory framework for professional engineers that contains offences and penalties that support the objects of the bill. The registration scheme established by this bill will set the standards of practice for professional engineers; promotes ongoing professional development within the engineering profession; reduces the risk of loss and harm to the public from engineering services; and gives consumers more confidence in engaging the services of a registered professional engineer. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Cain) adjourned to the next sitting.

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