Engineers question inquiry's lack of technical expertise

ENGINEERS Australia has questioned the lack of engineering experience on the inquiry board appointed by federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to look into the Gladstone Harbour bund wall failure.

Queensland division president Blake Harvey said the inquiry had a clear focus on technical design and construction.

"Any inquiry into these engineering issues requires specialised engineering expertise to ensure that technical matters are clearly understood and evaluated," Mr Harvey said. 

"Those already appointed to the independent panel are clearly experts within their fields and will add great value. 

"Nonetheless, we question why a suitably qualified and experienced professional engineer has not been appointed to the panel.

"Independent inquiries such as these perform the critical function of informing our communities of the facts surrounding complex technical issues. 

"That fact that engineering expertise has been overlooked should be a concern to all and has the potential to undermine the credibility of the inquiry."

Mr Harvey said that considering the level of training and expertise required to practice engineering, it was critical that professional engineers were appointed to any inquiry that investigated technical engineering issues.

"Without this level of expertise, it is difficult for an inquiry to speak on technical issues with the degree of authority that the community expects," he said.

The organisation has written to Mr Hunt seeking clarification on how the independent panel aims to ensure engineering expertise is adequately represented in the inquiry process.