07 July 2015

Influencing government policy – advocating for you and your profession

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IPENZ takes its role seriously as the voice of the engineering profession. “Through influencing leaders and decision-makers, we represent the industry and advocate on behalf of you, our Members, as well as the wider engineering profession,” Chief Executive, Susan Freeman-Greene says.

IPENZ is committed to promoting outcomes to engineering issues that benefit New Zealand. Through submissions to Parliament and Government agencies, and through participation in various working groups, we influence decisions on key public policy issues.

We produce around 20 policy submissions each year, including the following:

The occupational regulation of engineers

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission recommended engineers should be required to have the correct qualifications (CPEng) to do specific work. We support this. In our submission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), we suggested ways the proposal could be improved and implemented. The aim is to enhance the reputation of and public confidence in engineering in New Zealand, and value Members’ qualifications, skills and experience. Discussions with the Government are ongoing, including separating the issues that can be progressed without legislative change.

Earthquake-prone buildings

Along with the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, the Structural Engineering Society New Zealand and the New Zealand Geotechnical Society, we advocated for the risk assessment framework to be the basis for undertaking timely building assessments and strengthening programmes. We expressed concern that there were insufficient engineering professionals with appropriate qualifications to complete the seismic capacity assessment tasks within the required five years. Recent announcements by the Government include their intention to categorise New Zealand into three seismic risk zones and update the deadlines for assessment and strengthening or demolishing. This will make sure high risk areas are dealt with first. Strengthening will also be prioritised based on building vulnerability and occupancy. The Local Government and Environment Select Committee recently released an interim report, which is available on Parliament’s website.

Modernising parental leave

IPENZ supports engineers undertaking professional and personal development and, as such, supports the Government’s Parental Leave scheme. We’re keen to help busy engineers balance their careers and family lives, and to make sure employers are able to help their employees achieve this without any impact on ongoing business. Our submission to MBIE highlights key ways this can be achieved.

Standards and Accreditation Bill

We opposed the proposal to move standards development away from Standards New Zealand, an independent Crown entity, to MBIE. However, given this change was inevitable and to make sure the high level of voluntary support for developing standards by our Members continues, we advocated strongly to make sure that the Standards’ development process remains impartial, fair and accountable.

Working directly with government officials in a constructive and positive way is a key element in the advocacy process and can be very effective in influencing change. In this regard IPENZ is involved in a number of ongoing activities including:

  • Joint and several liability workshops
    Following its submission and appearance before the Select Committee on the Government’s response to the Law Commission’s discussion paper on joint and several liability, we have represented engineers’ interests in MBIE workshops to discuss the implications of retaining this liability framework.
  • MBIE working groups
  • Representing Members and the engineering profession in working groups dealing with consenting quality assurance
  • Improving access to critical and authoritative building information.
  • Developing regulation on commercial consenting (formerly known as risk-based consenting).

We also play a significant role with WorkSafe New Zealand. With a significant change coming for New Zealand’s health and safety framework, we are involved in reviewing legislation and regulation for the Health and Safety Reform Bill. We will be involved in developing guidance for practising engineers, and reviewing the codes of practice and guidance to support the Bill. We continue to work closely with WorkSafe in relation to amusement device regulation (through our Technical Interest Group – Recreation Safety Engineering) and providing guidance to engineering designers and design verifiers in relation to pressure equipment.

In all our dealings, it is important we represent our Members’ and technical groups’ views. We collaborate closely with our specialist technical groups to present consistent messages, either through joint submissions or through endorsement of each other’s positions. It is important for Members to have their say, as the quality of submissions and advice provided is considerably enhanced through this feedback. We therefore encourage you to provide input when calls for comments on important Government policy and regulation are made. We regularly seek comments through Engineering Direct as issues arise.

With your support, we will continue to be able to show leadership on the issues of the day and provide a respected voice to the Government on behalf of the profession.