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. 

I write this towards the end of winter and I am thinking of our rural colleagues living and working west of the sandstone curtain in areas suffering from drought. The drought is severe and is likely to last well into summer. Our thoughts go to those farmers and the businesses that support them, such as the local survey firms, who are battling to keep afloat in this particularly devastating period.

You should all be aware that the Office of the Registrar General has announced a two year time limit on the validity of survey certificates effective the 1st September 2018. Details have been sent out in a Newsletter email from the Institution office.

In late July I attended the Institution of Surveyors Victoria 2018 Surveying Expo and Dinner at St Kilda. It was a good opportunity to strengthen inter-institution relationships and you can read more about my visit elsewhere in Azimuth.

One of the other ‘hats’ I wear is that of a part-time lecturer in the Master of Property program at the University of Newcastle. The first assignment I set for my students (the recommended text is Hallmann) is to write an essay examining land title specifically Old System, Torrens, Strata, Community and Native titles and to compare with the leasehold system in Canberra. Finally I ask them to consider the evolving nature of land title in Australia particularly as more people live in apartments and the difficult challenge of how to allow indigenous people, who live on Native Title land, to acquire some measure of individual land title which they might use to obtain a loan to build a house or setup a business. We all take our individual land titles for granted – our home is our castle – but those Australians living on Native Title land are not so lucky. I have suggested that we use the Community Title model to allow individuals to own a small building block while the bulk of the Native Title land stays in collective community ownership. Others suggest it may be easier to create individual long term sub leases over the Native Title land for house lots instead. Either way, we need to find a solution to this problem, if we are ever to ‘close the gap’ for Aboriginal Australians.

A while ago I spoke to a surveyor who told me a disturbing story. He was working on a major rural freeway project and was using the Dial Before You Dig maps to find and survey the existing underground services which crossed the site. He could not find a particular pipe or conduit at the mapped location and had to widen his search area for some distance before he found the buried service. He eventually found it many metres out of the mapped location. I asked if he fed that information back to the utility and DBYD but he quickly told me that he could not do that, because he, or his company, would then be held responsible for the location of the service. So the map remains as is until some else tries to find it - maybe. This is a ridiculous situation and I have made contact with the relevant authorities to see if the process can be improved. Watch this space.

I understand that the Council of Reciprocating Surveyors Boards of Australia and New Zealand (CRSBANZ) is investigating whether the qualifications and experience assessed to achieve cadastral registration should be recognised as being equivalent to a Master’s Degree. This is being considered as CRSBANZ is aware that some Registered/Licensed land surveyors have been discriminated against when applying for senior positions – be it in Australia, New Zealand or overseas-where a post-graduate qualification of at least a Master’s level is a specified minimum criterion. The experience gained by the surveyor and assessments performed by the registration boards are not being recognised, or given the value aligned with, a Masters Degree.

This lack of formal academic recognition of Registered/Licensed surveyors’ training may possibly diminish the value of their professional status in sectors of the public that are unaware of Surveyors Boards’ assessment processes.

CRSBANZ have organised a ‘survey monkey’ questionnaire to ascertain the profession’s interest in pursuing the matter. You can participate in the survey - which is open until mid September 2018 - at I think this is an excellent idea that needs to be investigated. Not only might it help open more career paths for Registered Surveyors it may help to raise the profile of our profession, in the eyes of government, as well as the general community.

I have just returned from attending the SSSI Queensland conference in Brisbane where I made some good contacts and met many local surveyors and spatial scientists. It is essential, for the good of the profession, that we develop and maintain regular contact between the relevant professional state institutions and I will do what I can to progress this important objective.

I have just read another story about John Harrison the famous clockmaker who solved the problem of finding longitude at sea, which most of you would know. What I didn’t know was that Harrison also claimed that he could make a land based clock that would be accurate to within 1 second over 100 days. He was ridiculed and savagely criticised at the time for making, what was considered by some, to be an outrageous claim. But then that was the story of his life in many ways.

Well 250 years later, as reported by the Guardian, Harrison has been vindicated. apr/19/clockmaker-john-harrison-vindicated-250-years-absurd-claims

Harrisons (land based ) time machine would have a large pendulum arc, relatively light bob, and a recoil grasshopper escapement – and would be able to keep time to within a second over 100 days.

Unfortunately for Harrison, his ideas for this super-accurate pendulum clock were forgotten until the 1970s, when interest in the clockmaker and his remarkable timepieces was re-awakened. Recently his proposed clock has actually been constructed from the original specifications and Harrisons predictions, so ridiculed at the time, have proven correct. The Harrison story of overcoming prejudice and ridicule to solve the greatest maritime navigation challenge ever just gets better and better.

By the time this is published Sheila and I will be, hopefully, driving around Scotland and England tracing ancestral roots. Meanwhile our Institution is in the safe hands of our Immediate Past President Michael Green and our President-elect Leigh Finlay.


Tony Proust
Registered Surveyor
President ISNSW

September 2018

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