Tasmania’s infrastructure and transport systems underpin the growth of our economy. The state road network is one of our biggest infrastructure assets, consisting of over 3 ,700km of roads and over 1300 bridges and major structures linking our major population centres, facilitating movement of people and freight.
The Department of State Growth is responsible for managing this road network on behalf of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, and key to this work is a small team of engineers.
Engineers undertake a 4-year university qualification, as a minimum. They design, analyse, build and test complex systems, structures and materials to ensure they meet their functional objectives considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety and cost.
In the past engineers within the State Service would head up huge teams of workers to design and build major public infrastructure. Since the demise of day-labour workforces in the State Service, and the push to outsource or privatise most construction, there are far fewer engineers. But they still play a vital role.
Tasmania has a very limited number of civil construction companies that ‘compete’ for work on public projects. Having skilled and experienced engineers inside the State Service means we can negotiate contracts that get the best value for our community, and we can ensure the work that is done is of high quality and delivers on safety. When we have too few engineers working for the community, we need to rely on civil construction companies to assess each other’s work or to engage private sector engineers, who might be reviewing a project for a big construction company one day and working for that same company the next.
The CPSU has just served a Log of Claims on behalf of our engineer members for a new Agreement. Like many areas, we are hoping to use the new Agreement to address recruitment and retention issues facing engineers – making sure we have the engineers needed to ensure our roads, bridges and other infrastructure is delivered on time and on budget.