President’s update to Canberra members

Friday, 29 April 2016

Article written by Engineers Australia Canberra President 2016 Alan Thompson FIEAust CPEng(Ret) EngExec

I am pleased to be able to update members in relation to happenings and events that are relevant to the whole profession, and to the Canberra Division of Engineers Australia, but firstly a helicopter view of 2016.

This year, we can expect two elections, both with implications for the engineering profession.

Federal Election - At the time of writing it is very likely that this will happen in early July, although a later date in 2016 still seems to be possible.  Why is this election relevant to the engineering profession?

Firstly, both major parties now recognise the central role that Australia’s larger cities have in the national economy.  Importantly, both major parties also recognize that these cities have huge infrastructure deficits.  It is likely that we will see new policy and project announcements to overcome these deficits, especially for transport infrastructure.

Of course the “announcements” from one side of politics are unlikely to be the same as those from the other side, but the end result is likely to be a significant medium term increase in design and construction activity for urban roads, and especially for public transport.

Importantly, both sides of politics seem to be saying that they will rely on the analyses of Infrastructure Australia (IA) to guide the politicians in project selection.  I strongly support this approach, noting that the IA comprises of experienced engineers and transport economists.  It will be interesting to see whether the politicians stick to this approach.  

Secondly, the issue of new submarines appears to be close to “decision time”.  The pressure of election campaigning is likely to result in early announcements.

Clearly the city’s infrastructure announcements and decisions about submarines are likely to provide major opportunities for the overall profession, including for Canberra members.

ACT election - This will occur in mid-October 2016. At this stage it appears that a key ACT election issue will be the Capital Metro light rail line from Civic to Gungahlin. The Labor/Green government is very committed to the project, and wishes to commence construction work before the election.

In contrast, the Liberal opposition has stated that if it is elected, it will cancel the Capital Metro contract, akin to the way the Victorian Labor party cancelled the East-West Link road project in Melbourne (after Labor won the 2014 Victorian State election).  The ACT Liberal Party approach to public transport focuses on improved bus services, rather than light rail.

Clearly the upcoming ACT election has significant interest for Canberra Division members.


The business of Engineers Australia

New EA Board - From the beginning of 2016, Engineers Australia has a new governing Board. The Board is smaller than the previous governing Council, but has a greater emphasis on skills. The Board is chaired by the new President of EA, Mr John McIntosh.

National President’s Roadshow - President John McIntosh visited Canberra in early April, and participated in a meeting with many of the EA local office bearers, Fellow and Hon Fellow members.   McIntosh gave us insights into national priorities of EA, including raising the media profile of engineers, increasing our level of influence with governments, and raising Australia’s Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) performance.

Recognition of contribution of Ms Vesna Strika - As many Divisional members will be aware, Vesna Strika completed her service with Engineers Australia in February 2016. I understand that Vesna had been with EA for some 20 years, and for some 17 years had been in the role which is now titled Divisional General Manager.

The Divisional Committee would like to recognise the significant contribution of Vesna to the work of the Division.  We particularly note her contribution over the years to Australian Engineering Week, and notably the Engineering Games.  Her pro-active contribution to the promotion of the engineering profession through the Freefall initiative at the new National Arboretum is also a key highlight of her time with Engineers Australia.

We wish Vesna all the best for the future.

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