Engineers Australia calls for action ahead of Queensland election

Engineers Australia

Engineers Australia is urging the next Queensland government to commit to action in embedding climate resilience, building a future workforce and enhancing economic strength.

“We are facing local and global challenges that pose a threat to our Queensland way of life. Bushfires, floods and, more recently, the pandemic have added extra urgency to the need for action,” said Engineers Australia’s General Manager – Queensland, Stacey Rawlings.

The organisation’s election priority list – developed through consultation with members, industry leaders, state government departments and discipline-centric panels – highlights the crucial role engineers will play in addressing these challenges,

“Now, more than ever, we need engineers to find creative solutions and we look forward to working with the next government to help build a resilient and prosperous Queensland,” said Ms Rawlings.

Engineers Australia Election Priority List

1. Embed Climate Resilience

Engineers Australia calls on the next Queensland Government to embed climate resilience through:

Achieve Water Security

To increase resilience to drought and floods, protect economic prosperity and social wellbeing, and mitigate risks to human life, Queensland needs to:

  • Commit to a “OneWater” approach whereby all government policy, regulation and management relating to water is managed by a single agency. This will lead to holistic governance of all sources, uses and discharge of water.
  • Provide leadership in Total Water Cycle Management to maximise social, environmental and economic outcomes.
  • Develop a state-wide water security program to improve water system resilience to confront long term trends and major shocks that are exacerbated by climate change.
  • Collect, curate, store and make freely available water data to adequately inform future water planning.

Achieve Energy Security

To drive economic growth and develop diversity, resilience and sustainability through energy policy, Queensland needs to:

  • Develop and implement an electricity sector transition plan for Queensland based on the findings of the national AEMO Integrated System Plan.
  • Continue to invest in micro-grid solutions to build resilience of remote and regional communities.
  • Support measures to reduce energy consumption by improving energy efficiency, especially for the built environment by championing the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.
  • Leverage the state’s capability as a major energy producer to position Queensland as a major exporter of green energy.
  • Reduce dependence on liquid fuel imports by planning transport infrastructure that is fit for alternative fuel vehicles.

2. Build a Workforce for the Future

The next Queensland Government should commit to building a workforce that is fit for the future through the following:

Secure the Future Workforce

Queensland needs more engineers who can turn ideas into products and services with social, economic and environmental value. Queensland needs to:

  • Get more students studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in Queensland schools.
  • Invest in specialist teachers of maths and science.
  • Encourage young women and disadvantaged youth to participate in school-level advanced and intermediate maths, physics and chemistry.
  • Foster close links between schools, universities and industry for higher STEM participation.
  • Incentivise the employment of graduate engineers to ensure skills pipeline stability.

Skill the Public Sector

The public sector delivers the majority of infrastructure for the state and its in-house engineering capacity has been reduced through decades of outsourcing and risk management. Public infrastructure project delivery is suffering as a consequence, and Queensland needs to:

  • Develop a workforce plan to lift the engineering capability of the public sector.
  • Appoint a state Chief Engineer, to provide independent advice and technical oversight on state infrastructure projects.
  • Appoint Chief Engineers within relevant public sector agencies and government-owned corporations.
  • Appoint appropriately qualified engineering professionals (registered or Chartered) to exercise delegated authority to manage technical risks for government agencies.

Registration of All Engineers

To lift the standing of the profession, raise standards and protect community wellbeing, the whole engineering team should be registered. Queensland needs to:

  • Expand the current registration scheme to include diploma and bachelor of technology qualified engineering associates and technologists.
  • Ensure all engineers remain at the cutting edge of technology through compulsory Continuing Professional Development.
  • Reduce risk by providing a standard that the public and government can use to check that an engineering professional, technologist or associate has the qualifications and experience to practice.

3. Enhance Economic Strength

Achieving a stronger economy should be a target for the next Queensland Government.

Infrastructure Investment

Good infrastructure increases state productivity and creates jobs. Government should take a long-term and wholistic approach to infrastructure investment that includes management, maintenance, renewal and decommissioning of existing assets as well as planning for new productivity-enhancing initiatives. Doing so will support a sustainable and resilient future for the state. Queensland needs to:

  • Invest in projects that have undergone rigorous evaluation to ensure value for money, utilising a transparent decision-making process.
  • Prioritise asset maintenance to derive maximum value of all investments.
  • Involve engineers in projects from the beginning to develop innovative and resilient infrastructure.
  • Use at least a 15-year delivery horizon for infrastructure planning, and a minimum of a 50 years horizon for water and natural resources management
  • Evaluate alternative funding arrangements to enable new infrastructure investments.
  • Measure and publicly report on the effects of infrastructure investments.

Secure the Supply Chain

In response to global supply chain disruptions, governments should support measures to improve local manufacturing capability and supply chain resilience. The next Queensland Government should:

  • Leverage purchasing power to diversify supply chains.
  • Create an holistic industry policy that supports domestic innovation and manufacturing.
  • Invest in targeted research and development, emerging technologies, industries and careers that support a positive future for Queensland by fostering a less constrained ‘start up mindset’ to innovation.

/Public Release.