President’s Desk

Each month the President of ISNSW, Tony Proust, addresses the considerations and concerns of the Institution's members and the surveying industry alike. 

This last month has been particularly busy with many more events to attend and participate in than usual.

Demand study launch

As you may know our Institution Head Office and its groups; including the North Coast, Southern, St George Sutherland, Sydney North and Cumberland Groups helped fund the latest iteration of the Demand Supply and Skills Gap for Surveying and Geospatial professionals. I recently attended the launch of the Demand study by BIS Oxford Economics. This is the third such study (first in 2012 then again in 2014) and the first to provide data from all states and territories. The shortage of surveyors will continue for a few years but the good news is that the number of new graduates is rising and enrolments at the University and TAFE courses are increasing. I put this down to the excellent work of the Surveying Taskforce who have been promoting surveying as a career for a few years. It was interesting to note that the number of surveyors retiring has been less than that projected by the previous studies. It was of concern to read that there has been a decline of young woman entering the profession. Fortunately and possibly in response to this disturbing information, a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan was launched at LOCATE in Melbourne last month– more details below.

SMIC at our HQ

On April 5 we hosted the 165th meeting of SMIC which was held at our Surry Hills office for the first time. Following the meeting The Surveyor General Narelle Underwood presented 20 certificates of competency – 18 Cadastral Surveyors and two Mining Surveyors. This was also a first for our office.

The day began with a round table Industry Liaison meeting - chaired by the Registrar General and the Surveyor General - called to discuss the future of digital survey plans including the low uptake of Landxml and to consider possible alternatives. Our Institution was well represented led by our Honorary Secretary , John Minehan as well as Greg Frith and Dan Crawter. The intention is to undertake a strategic review of the digital plan lodgement process with the goal to “make it easier to subdivide developable land, improve Government services to the property sector and make new housing more affordable by transitioning to digital survey plans”

It is proposed to set up a Digital Survey Plan Consultative Committee including industry representatives and other stakeholders. There will be opportunity for industry consultation. Watch this space.

Parliamentary Luncheon

I attended the Seniors Group’s 19th Parliamentary Luncheon where the guest speaker was Matt Hayward, son of Phil, who described with some passion, his work in conserving threatened animal populations around the world. This was my second lunch in Parliament House and I am very impressed with the Seniors Group and how they organise the event. We need to promote this event particularly to younger members of the profession. This event gives us the opportunity to meet the decision makers, or those who can introduce us to them. Next year being the twentieth Parliamentary Lunch is one not to be missed.


Immediately after the lunch I flew to Melbourne to attend LOCATE 19. I arrived just in time for the Gala Dinner and the SSSI APSEA Awards which in a perfect world would be combined with our EISSI Awards. Maybe this is something we can do in the future. The following day was intense starting with the President’s Breakfast meeting which brought together representatives from SSSI, ISV, SSSI QLD and other surveying and spatial stakeholders. Later I attended a number of presentations mainly in the surveying stream including a fantastic presentation by our own Jonathon Saxon - Scan to BIM to GIS. A case study around a Sydney Icon - detailing a laser scanning case study of Circular Quay. Jonathon’s presentation described the detailed 3D survey of Circular Quay including above ground, underwater and most importantly under the jetties to help assess the condition of the piles and related infrastructure.

Another excellent presentation, part of a comprehensive two day surveying stream, was about the Legal Traceability of GPS positions in Australia by Guorong Hu from Geoscience Australia. With our growing dependence on GPS we need to confirm the legal traceability of GPS positioning across Australia. Geoscience Australia certifies the legal status of the CORS network across the nation.

With nearly 900 attendees including surveyors and a wide cross section of spatial professionals it was a dynamic opportunity to meet and network with many people. LOCATE is clearly the premier national surveying and spatial conference in Australia.

The highlight for me was attending the launch of the Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan which aims to boost innovation and collaboration in the surveying and spatial sector through increased gender and cultural diversity and inclusion. The plan is sponsored by a wide cross section of survey and spatial related organisations including ISV, SSSI, Curtin University, RMIT, SIBA , GITA and The Victorian and Australian Governments. Don’t know how we missed out participating in this project but I plan to make up for that omission.

We need to ensure that woman and ethnically and culturally diverse young people are attracted to our profession and feel comfortable in the profession.

We need to see more gender and culturally diverse people in our profession – pure and simple.

Gone are the days when the surveying profession can get away with being characterised as being a bastion of fit, white anglo-males. We are changing but not fast enough.

It is interesting to learn that Fiji and Timor-Leste both have more gender diversity in their Lands Departments than we do. Food for thought.

See my more detailed report on the Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan elsewhere in Azimuth.

The week before LOCATE I attended, briefly, the 2019 APAS conference in the Hunter Valley. There were 300 attendees and I am told there are only 150 members of APAS so clearly many private surveyors attend as well which indicates that the conference is well regarded by the wider profession.

There was an interesting item in Timelines in the Sydney Morning Herald recently, dated 1943, during the WW2 – “The RAAF has urgent need of copies of a publication with the forbidding title of Logarithmic tables to seven places of decimals – log sines and tangents to every second of the circle, but so rare is the volume that booksellers and libraries do not possess a copy. The RAAF hopes however that some private citizens may have one and asks that it be delivered to RAAF headquarters”

I assume they were needed for training navigators. I was one of the last generation of surveyors who learnt how to use these tables before the introduction of the magical hand held pocket calculators - a spin-off of the space race - which made the log tables redundant. I am sure there are many copies of these tables on older surveyors shelves or hidden away under the house or in the garage. Mine is.

As you might be aware we are on the lookout for a new President Elect who, all going well, will progress to President in October 2021.

15th South East Asia Survey Congress

Finally I need to remind you about SEASC in Darwin in August 2019. This is your unique chance to join in knowledge sharing among the world’s leading surveying and spatial experts and help deliver 21st Century capacity building and practical skills. Join decision makers, industry leaders and the next generation of thinkers in Darwin. Secure your seats and register today. I’ll be there.


Tony Proust
Meritorious Surveyor
President ISNSW

May 2019

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