Policy and advocacy update

Engineers Australia gives a voice to the profession on matters of public policy

Engineers Australia gives a voice to the profession on matters of public policy. We advance the science and practice of engineering for the benefit of the community by developing consensus views on policy matters from the engineers’ perspectives, informing and influencing community leaders, government agencies and political decision makers.

Here we give you the latest on our activities in this space.

Meeting with Senator Penny Wong

Engineers Australia’s board and executive leadership team were at the table for a discussion with Senator the Hon Penny Wong, federal leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Held in June in Canberra, the gathering was an exclusive opportunity for Engineers Australia to advocate the importance of the profession.

During the meeting, the conversation flowed to many important areas, including:

  • The need for increased engineering expertise in decision making roles throughout project lifecycles, to minimise risk and maximise benefits. 
  • Engineers’ ability to innovate and find solutions to the problems faced today and the unknown problems we will face in the future.
  • Emphasising the ‘E’ in STEM to promote more capability and diversity within the profession and to highlight the importance of education for the economy,  long term capability and productivity.
  • Tackling the skills shortage currently facing Australia and how migrant engineers’ skills can be better utilised.
  • The need for economic diversification and the reinvigoration of Australia’s manufacturing industry. In particular repurposing existing infrastructure and skills in former manufacturing hubs to suit emerging industries.
  • Professional skills and the important role Engineers Australia plays in ensuring tertiary engineering graduate competence in areas that lack greater registration regulation.

This was an excellent opportunity to advance Engineers Australia’s voice in Parliament by clearly articulating what engineers do and promoting how the profession can offer solutions to community problems.

Energy workstream

The External Voice Project’s PDF) energy workstream has made significant progress since its launch in March 2021. Consultations with members, college chairs, academics and businesses have identified six workstream activities. Each activity represents a high-impact opportunity, and is listed in order of importance expressed by member stakeholders.

  1. Energy Governance and the Engineering Voice           
  2. Energy Transition to 2030, 2040 and 2050
  3. Energy Reliability
  4. Skills Supply and Demand
  5. Energy Security
  6. Energy Efficiency

The certainty of climate change and the need to radically reduce emissions drives the urgency of the transformation process facing Australia. This has led stakeholders to see energy governance as the most pressing need. Actions taken between now and 2030 will determine how successful the transformation will be.

The first workstream activity, Energy Governance and the Engineering Voice, is both a reflection of this input and a response to these issues. It is the least technical policy area, but the urgency of the climate change challenge drives it to the forefront.

Three themes relating to energy governance have arisen in consultations where Engineers Australia can make an impact for members, the engineering profession and the community at large. These are:

  1. A comprehensive national plan to transition to clean, reliable and cost-effective energy.
  2. Ensuring the ‘engineering voice’ is present in processes and discussions involving engineered systems, including the establishment of an independent technical authority.
  3. Coherent policy settings focused on community benefit that provide certainty for investment opportunities.

Australia is undergoing an energy transformation at an unparalleled pace and scale. Over the next couple of decades, coal and gas generation will retire with new large-scale wind and solar generation coming online.  Energy storage is expanding through batteries and pumped hydro. Electric vehicles will impact both supply and demand. As the power network evolves the system must be planned, analysed, designed and operated as an engineered system.

Complex energy systems require mechanisms to support effective technical management and to facilitate efficient markets and these technical and economic mechanisms should operate independently of one another. Market support measures are readily apparent, but an independent technical voice is often lacking.

Along with these challenges, there are also opportunities. Australia has the resources to become a world leader in the low carbon energy future with the engineering expertise to solve problems and develop opportunities.

As the energy workstream progresses, we will be publishing discussion papers and holding roundtables with members and other stakeholders to refine the existing reform suggestions.

Engineers Australia will also develop additional solutions and look at ways it can practically improve the energy transition in Australia. The first discussion paper for the EVP Energy Workstream will shortly be made available for feedback as the basis for a future policy position.

A voice on skilled migration

Changes to skilled migration rules announced by the federal government will have a positive effect on the engineering profession and have been endorsed by Engineers Australia.

The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) has been expanded to include civil, structural, electrical, geotechnical, transport, mining, and petroleum engineering occupations. This is in addition to the already-listed occupations of mechanical and software engineer.

Engineers Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans AM spoke to 2GB's Money News about the changes to PMSOL.  

Past updates