NT engineer's registration suspended over insurance concerns
The Catalyst building on Finniss Street in Darwin was one of those found to be non-compliant. (ABC News: Andie Smith)
The structural engineer accused of designing nine non-compliant residential buildings in Darwin and Palmerston has had his Northern Territory registration suspended.
- Structural engineer John Scott of JWS Consultants has been accused of designing non-compliant buildings
- His registration as a certifying structural engineer has been suspended because of insurance issues
- Mr Scott was removed from the National Engineering Register in 2017 for not supplying professional development records
In April this year, the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL) ordered around 200 unit owners to rectify concrete transfer slabs that did not meet the National Construction Code.
Transfer slabs are designed to spread a building’s load onto support columns; but if not built to code, the structural integrity of the building can be at risk.
DIPL said all the slabs were designed by John Scott of JWS Consultants, who has been registered to practice as a certifying structural engineer in the Territory since 2006.
Nine buildings across Darwin and Palmerston were found to have non-compliant transfer slabs designed by Mr Scott. (ABC News: Ian Redfearn)
In May, DIPL referred Mr Scott to the Building Practitioners Board (BPB) for alleged professional misconduct about a pattern of non-compliance.
The board, which has the power to suspend or deregister practitioners, was due to begin a four-day hearing this week, but it was postponed for a directions hearing relating to undisclosed legal matters.
A new date is yet to be set for the inquiry, but the BPB decided last week to suspend Mr Scott’s registration because of insurance issues.
“The BPB deactivated and suspended John Scott’s registration because he advised the board his indemnity insurance was not being renewed and indemnity insurance is a mandatory requirement for all registrations,” Licensing NT said in a statement.
Engineer removed from national register in 2017
The ABC can also reveal Mr Scott was removed from the National Engineering Register (NER) in May 2017.
That was several years after the nine Darwin buildings were designed, but Mr Scott was still able to hold valid registration in the Territory after being removed from the NER.
The NER is a voluntary register operated by Engineers Australia.
One of its requirements is for practitioners to prove they have undertaken 150 hours of professional development over the previous three years.
Owners at 10 Duke Street in Stuart Park have been told the non-compliant building could cost $1.5 million to fix. (ABC News: Andy Hyde)
Engineers Australia said it requested Mr Scott provide records of his continuing professional development in December 2016.
It said Mr Scott asked for an extension, but when no response had been submitted by May 2017, he was removed from the NER.
There is no legislative requirement for practitioners to lose their NT registration if they are removed from NER.
NT legislation ‘a light touch’
Engineers Australia CEO Peter McIntyre said it would make sense for jurisdictions to share information about the registration status of practitioners, given many worked in multiple states and territories.
“If a person fails to comply with the requirements of the register, or is disciplined or struck off for some reason, it would be good to have visibility on a national basis [to know about] those people who have fallen foul of requirements in any jurisdiction.”
Mr McIntyre said the NER set a higher benchmark for registration than many other jurisdictions, including the Territory.
“The Northern Territory legislation is a very light touch, a very minimal registration,” Mr McIntyre said.
Engineers Australia CEO Peter McIntyre said the Territory should consider more stringent regulations. (Supplied: Male Champions of Change)
While the NER requires applicants to have at least five years of practical experience in their specific discipline, applicants in the Territory can be registered with just three years of general experience, including one year in their specific discipline.
However, if a practitioner is already registered on the NER, that is enough to gain registration in the Territory.
“We would encourage the Territory to look at whether the bar in the Territory is high enough,” Mr McIntyre said.
“We think it could be improved and it could be broadened to other areas of work.”
The ABC has contacted Licensing NT and DIPL for comment.