Part of Professionals Australia

QLD Warned Lack of Engineers Will Hamper Flood Rebuild

Queensland's Deputy Premier has been urged to immediately re-hire the engineers his government sacked after he criticised the quality of infrastructure rebuilt after the 2011 floods.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Speaking to ABC TV last week Jeff Sweeney MP said "To see a new bridge that was completed just before Christmas destroyed a couple of months later raises questions about the engineering standards, the design standards that we're using, and we have to address that".

CEO of Professionals Australia Chris Walton said Queensland's engineers had warned the successive governments that a lack of engineers would result in infrastructure problems in the future, especially when trying to rebuild after disasters like floods.

"Everybody in Queensland knows the Government can't build better bridges without more engineers," Mr Walton said.

"Queensland engineers told the Newman Government it doesn't have the staff it needs to rebuild infrastructure properly. But instead of heeding that warning it reacted by sacking the engineers it needs right now due to savage budget cuts.

"How on earth does Mr Seeney think Queensland can rebuild its infrastructure properly unless he starts immediately hiring engineers again?

"After the previous floods Queensland engineers did the very best they could, given there was a 30 per cent vacancy rate in engineering numbers.

"Now that the Newman Government has sacked so many engineers there is a very real risk that rebuilding projects will be delayed, their budgets will blow out by millions and the quality of the infrastructure may well be compromised.

"Queensland's rebuilding effort will be even more difficult than last time thanks to the unjustified sacking of the very people who are needed most to fix roads, bridges and rail lines.

"Without re-hiring engineers the infrastructure might not be fixed before next year's floods.

"Now that Mr Sweeney has realised this problem we would like to see plans to re-hire engineers and a detailed plan to retain engineering skills within the government."

Mr Walton said Mr Seeney's comments were deeply offensive to the many professional engineers employed by the Queensland Government and even more offensive to the engineers the Government made redundant since the election.

At the time of the 2011 floods Professionals Australia recognised that there would be huge problems rebuilding the state's roads and bridges and called on governments to work with the profession to restore engineering capability in the name of better and more secure public services.

"Queensland is just not properly prepared for disasters anymore," Mr Walton said.

"The private sector can't pick up all the rebuilding work, and without sound engineering and professional technical expertise within the government you just cannot ensure the work will get done properly.

"Queensland already suffered from continual cost blowouts in its infrastructure projects due to the chronic lack of engineers.  These blowouts will be exacerbated by the sacking of experienced engineers and this means the government won't be able to design and manage projects properly. There is evidence this will lead to a 20 per cent blow out."

Professionals Australia calls on Premier Campbell Newman, as an engineer himself, to wind back the cuts to engineering and solve the engineering skills crisis within the Government to ensure the state can rebuild after this flood and is better prepared for the inevitability of future disasters.

Have you got any pictures of infrastructure damage caused by the recent Queensland floods?  Send them to e-news@ProfessionalsAustralia.org.au and we'll publish them in an upcoming edition of Professional Network.

 

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