The Professional Engineers Act – Past and Present

The Professional Engineers Act – Past and Present

As we mark 90 years since the introduction of the original legislation in 1929, BPEQ has delved into the history books to look at the past versions of the legislation and the various amendments made during its 90-year existence.

Professor Roger Hawken – RPEQ #1


Story Bridge, Brisbane – January 1958




1929 – Queensland leads the way


  • The Professional Engineers Act 1929 (PE Act) passed by the Country and Progressive National Party under then Queensland Premier Arthur Moore
  • The driving force behind the PE Act was Professor Roger Hawken (inaugural BPEQ Chair and RPEQ #1)
  • Rationale for the establishment of the PE Act 1929 was to achieve status for engineers and the need for proper oversight of engineering to protect the public and uphold professional standards
  • During Great Depression jobs creation took priority ahead of safety and process; in some circumstances leading to engineering failure, such as the St Francis Dam collapse in 1928
  • PE Act 1929 came into operation on 21 August 1930

1929 – 1949

1929 – 1949
1929 – 1949


  • PE Act 1929 only applied to consulting engineers and restricted the terms ‘registered professional engineer’, ‘RPEQ’ ‘professional engineer’ and ‘consulting engineer’ to engineers registered with BPEQ
  • To be registered an engineer had to be 21 years or older and be of ‘good fame and character’
  • Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Mining engineering were the original four areas of engineering covered by the PE Act 1929
  • No offence for carrying out professional engineering services when not a RPEQ
  • Disciplinary powers were narrower, but they included being adjudged by the Board to have been guilty of infamous conduct in a professional respect, or of habitual drunkenness!

1950 – 1973

1950 – 1973
1950 – 1973


  • In 1950, Aeronautical, Chemical, Metallurgical and Naval Architecture were approved and added as recognised areas of engineering
  • The Professional Engineers Amendment Act 1973 introduced:
    • registration for approved professional engineering companies rather than just individuals
    • set the minimum age for registration at 24 years
    • updated divisions of engineering
    • revised pre-requisite qualifications for registration

1985 – 1997

1985 – 1997
1985 – 1997
  • In 1985, BPEQ undertook a comprehensive review of the PE Act to ensure its ongoing relevance
  • The review studied engineering registration schemes overseas and the non-registration of engineers in other Australian states and territories. Non-registration was found to be inconsistent with overseas practice and other professions
  • Major amendments in 1988:
    1. Introduced offence for carrying out professional engineering services when not a RPEQ
    2. pre-requisite qualifications were revised, and the age restriction removed and replaced with a length of experience requirement of five years
  • Further legislative amendments in 1992 and 1997 were made to support the ongoing registration of companies and establish complaints and investigation processes and the Professional Engineers Disciplinary Panel

2002 – PRESENT

2002 – PRESENT
2002 – Present


  • Ended registration for companies, adopted a co-regulatory model and allowed for the appointment of non-engineers to the Board
  • Definition of professional engineering service was prescribed in legislation
  • Prescriptive standard exemption added
  • Level of supervision required for unregistered persons was increased from ‘supervision’ to ‘direct supervision’
  • Non-RPEQs added as Board members – lawyer, construction industry representative and community representative
  • Queensland is still the only jurisdiction to apply a comprehensive registration system for engineers


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