The ACT Government has announced Mr Adrian Piani as the state’s Chief Engineer. In this role, Mr Piani will be providing advice on key projects in the state such as the light rail, hospital upgrades and school capital works programs.
We have long advocated for the role of a Chief Engineer to be established at the senior levels of the public and private sector. This role will increase technical competency, improve decision making and lift the standing of the profession in the ACT.
“If executed well, a chief engineer, together with engineer registration will help us to proof the ACT’s infrastructure and tackle our engineering challenges,” said Dale Beasley, Director Professionals Australia ACT Branch.
A media release from Mick Gentleman, Minister for Planning and Land Management said:
“The appointment of a Chief Engineer is an ACT Labor election commitment, and Mr Piani comes as a highly regarded engineer and consultant in the ACT… Mr Piani has extensive experience in the ACT, working on a range of infrastructure projects and initiatives and will bring a fresh strategic perspective to the role.”
In his role, Mr Piani will provide strategic advice and support to deliver the government’s $2.8 billion infrastructure pipeline and it’s associated engineering workforce plan.
Currently the Canberra area manager at AECOM, Mr Piani hopes his private sector experience will help to improve private-public sector partnerships.
“I’m really looking forward to the ability to collaborate across the sector…our quality of life in Canberra is predicated on the infrastructure we have,” he said. Mr Piani is due to begin his new role in June later this year.
In this role, the Chief Engineer will:
- Coordinate and lead engineering professionals across government to develop a collaborative and innovative culture
- Provide strategic advice for current and future engineering projects including Light Rail network, Canberra Hospital upgrades.
- Prepare and deliver an engineering workforce plan – in consult with professional engineering bodies like us.
An ongoing Chief Engineer is a big step forward in our campaign, Engineering A Better Future. The campaign is about better recognising and respecting the work that engineers do.
“In pushing for a Chief Engineer, the vision of our members was to create a chief advocate for the engineering profession; an outward facing, cross discipline, cross policy role,” said Mr Beasley.
However, there is concern about the role as it currently stands.
“The Chief Engineer role as its currently designed is not a stand-alone role, it is structured as a joint role together with the Executive Group Manager of the Infrastructure Finance and Captial Works Division,” said Mr Beasley.
As Executive Group Manager, Mr Piani is responsible for directly and indirectly overseeing 130 staff amongst other duties. The fear is the joint nature of the role will stifle the ability of Mr Piani to focus on the role as head of the profession in the ACT government engineering community.
Despite the concern, members have come a long way in the campaign to lift the standard of the profession. There is still more to be done to ensure engineers get the respect they deserve.
“Registration is mandatory in Queensland and it’s a matter of when not if in Victoria. The ACT government committed before the last election to a scheme of their own however progress towards a scheme has been slow. Our focus will be on working with the Government to ensure their commitment to registration is delivered,” Mr Beasley said.
Now is the time for ACT engineers to maintain the momentum and continue forward. Our next step is to push for an engineer registration scheme, in line with that of Queensland.
The Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 is currently being considered by the Victorian Government.