Last week, Australian current affairs television show 60 Minutes reported that a Brisbane man had been masquerading as an English engineer for more than 40 years, stealing the identity of Will Fisher, including his name, birthday and professional qualifications.
According to the programme, he lists among his achievements ‘supervision of major construction works including….piling contracts for high rise buildings…e.g Kingsgate, Sydney.’ Kingsgate, the 33-tower in Sydney’s Kings Cross, is one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
60 Minutes also claims he played an integral role in the construction of Christchurch’s local television station building, which was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake.
Now Engineers Australia has urgently called on the federal government to bring forward plans to create a national system of registration for engineering professionals to ensure appropriate professional standards for the protection of the community.
“The ramifications of someone misrepresenting their qualifications in any profession are obviously very serious, said Engineers Australia CEO Stephen Durkin. “This is particularly so in the engineering profession where the implications of things going wrong could be tragic. Engineers Australia has long called for a system of engineering registration to address the type of risks highlighted in these recent media reports.”
Durkin said the fraud allegations drive home the fact that the country needs to implement safeguards to ensure Australia’s 200,000 engineers are held to the same standards as other integral professionals such as doctors, architects and lawyers.
“It is unacceptable that engineering is one of the only long-standing professions that is not subject to regulation, given the important work of engineering professionals and the size of the engineering workforce,” he said. “As a profession that is involved in so many critical aspects of our life, the public deserves to know that engineers are properly regulated.”
Durkin added that, given the prevalence of skilled workers who hail from outside the country in the engineering trade, the need for universally-enforced high standards would be an immense benefit.
“Engineers Australia believes it must be a priority for government to develop a uniform system of registration for engineers and this must be backed by the weight of the law,” he said. “Engineers Australia members are held to a very high standard, however membership is voluntary and we can’t currently guarantee that these same high standards apply to all engineers.”
He noted that a recent Senate report looking into the skills shortage in the engineering field also recommended that engineers be subject to a national registration system.
“Engineers Australia is now calling on the government to take concrete steps towards introducing legislation to ensure that consistent standards are in place across the engineering profession,” he said.