Archive for August, 2013

Wednesday 21 August saw the Victorian Auditor General, John Doyle,  table a report in Parliament entitled  ” Developing Transport Infrastructure and Services for Population Growth Areas.

Access the report at this url

The VAGO website short summary is reproduced below:

“Over many years, the state has failed to deliver the transport infrastructure and services needed to support rapidly growing communities. This is adversely impacting accessibility, and risks the future liveability of metropolitan Melbourne. Urgent action is required to address this serious problem. Inadequate public transport and growing gaps in the road network in these communities are creating barriers to mobility, including access to critical services, education and employment opportunities.

In turn, these deficiencies are increasing car dependence, pollution and exacerbating traffic congestion at significant community cost. This both limits state productivity and the time that people can spend with their families. Despite these growing problems, funding to address the transport needs of growth areas can take more than a generation to materialise. This longstanding disconnect between planning and funding, gives credence to the perception that past statewide planning initiatives have been disingenuous.

Growing pressure on state finances heightens the need to effectively prioritise limited funds, and to develop alternative funding sources and implementation strategies to meet the growing challenge.

This audit’s recommendations are focused on addressing these longstanding issues. However, they will have limited value if their implementation is not supported by a realistic and effective whole of government approach.”

Engineers Australia Victorian Structural Branch Symposium on Structural Failures may be of interest to IPWEAvic members.

Structural Failures Symposium: Lessons to be learned – Progress to be made

Tuesday 8 October, 2013
Symposium: 8:30am – 6:00pm

Dinner (at Crown): 7:00pm – 9:30pm

Program and details available at

This symposium will focus on Structural Failures, how they happen and more importantly, how they can be eliminated. Leading experts in all aspects of “failures” will present including International Keynote Speaker Alastair Soane, Director, Structural-Safety (CROSS UK). This UK organisation is reputed to be instrumental in significantly reducing failures and problems in the UK building industry. Leading local experts will also deliver presentations on Forensic Engineering, Structural Assessment and Prevention of Failures as well as explore Litigation, and Crisis Management. Paul Plowman, CEO, Hill + Knowlton Strategies will discuss ‘Crisis Management and the Role of Media’ at the Symposium Dinner at Crown.


When:  Wednesday, September 18, 2013,
Time:   9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Where:  at Wyndham City Council, Council Chamber
45 Princes Highway, Werribee, VIC 3030

Download Registration Brochure and Program Details here

This event is kindly sponsored by biosis and includes a light luncheon

Featuring Speaking Panel:

  • Dr Ilya Berelov, Biosis Pty Ltd
  • Mark Eccleston, Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria
  • Bryon Powell, Wadawurrung
  • Melissa Falkenberg, Wyndham City Council,

This is a free event but you must register to attend.

Contact: Mandy  0419 105 788


Seven candidates have nominated for 4 positions that will become vacant at the next AGM scheduled for 10th October 2013.

In alphabetical order by surname the candidates are

  • Claude Cullino
  • Ross Goyne
  • Ossie Martinz
  • Kim Sedgwick
  • Chris Sfetkidis
  • Mark Varmalis
  • Steve Verity

Learn more about each of the candidates and their aspirations for IPWEAvic by downloading the Candidate Profiles found at this url

Voting in the election is for members only.  The helios online system is being used.  If you have problems using the online system please contact ph 03 9005 0860 before 5th September.   Voting will remain open until 10th September.


The National Works & Engineering Conference is 4 weeks away.  It is being held at the Bendigo Showgrounds in Bendigo.  And there is now a conference app available.  Take a look and download it to your phone in preparation for the conference.  Download at this url



The IPWEAvic President, Vicki Shelton, has presented a paper in conjunction with fellow IPWEAvic Board member Jane Waldock at the International Public Works Conference in Darwin.  The conference attracted over 500 delegates from around the world and was held at the Darwin Convention Centre betwen 11 and 15th August.

Jane and Vicki presented their paper to a full house speaking about then and now – foundations for the future of engineering looking at how over time the emphasis on the 3C’s (community, consultation, committees) has become more prominant that in the past where the 3R’s (roads, rates and rubbish) were more pronounced.

Take a look at their paper at this url



Warren Roberts, current CEO at Stonnington Council, has been awarded the Keith Wood Medal at the IPWEA International Public Works Conference held in Darwin 11th to 15th August 2013.


IPWEAvic Information Series Event was held on Wednesday 21 August 2013 9am til 1pm at Ballarat Golf Club in Ballarat.

A light luncheon was generously provided by Biosis.  The event was especially significant as it was part of biosis celebration of 30 years in the consulting industry.  Congratulations Biosis!

The event was chaired by Adam Sewell, the IPWEAvic convenor of the IPWEAvic Central Highlands Regional Group. Delegates from Local Government, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, VicTrack, Consultants were represented at the event.

The delegates were treated to 5 presentations and then had a chance to participate in a discussion with the expert panel.

Biosis Overview – John Miller, Principal Botanist at Biosis

John’s overview stressed the importance of the following three items when looking at the environmental risk in projects:

1. Gather data

  • Know what is important
  • What data to collect
  • How to collect the data
  • How much data to collect
  • When data should be collected

2. Interpretation of data

  • Implications of the data
  • It is a shows topper
  • Impact minimised

3.  The decision

  • Good data
  • Proper interpretation
  • Robust discussion
  • Defensible position

Regulators View – Don Hough, Director Regulation and Approvals, Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Don shared his thoughts on how environmental risks emerge through the Project Cycle, considering the following elements:

  • Finance
  • Design
  • Construct
  • Operate maintain
  • Decommission

He stressed that if you are seeking to address environmental risk in the operate/maintain and decommission stages of a project then it could get very costly, an example being with contaminated land.
The cost of environmental risk needs to be linked to cost and performance and an allowance made fro its management in the operating budget.  If not thought about at the beginning of projects it will become an issue in the operating stage and you will be expected to manage the environmental risk within the operating budget.

Optimisation of cost vs performance
Set cost and make decision on this information
In 1980 the cost of collecting environmental information was low but over time as more money was available and the public demanded better information more money was spent on collection of environmental data.  There is a point where the investment in collection of data gives only marginal returns

Transnational private standards are scalable and transferrable

  • Risk. ISO 3100
  • Environmental management IOS 14000
  • Quality ISO 9000
  • Audit ISA

Wind farm experience

  • Business model
  • First mover to mature industry
  • Social licence to operate
  • Regulatory reform
  • Changing standards
  • Changing focus, risk and it one
  • Transaction costs, one stop shop

At present the windfarm industry has a lot of approvals but not too many are on the ground. The industry is looking at introducing better efficiency in the industry working towards a one step process for windfarm approvals rather than a few steps which are contested at each stage.

A foundation for change

    • Cultural

Productivity commission environmental in projects -Rework Resubmitting documents Clear accountability to deliver Right info at right time Quality systems is good

  • Technical

– Project definition
– Risk assessment and management

The department has learnt that Road networks are critical.  Initially the assumption had been made that road networks were sufficient to carry additional construction traffic but should have considered the windfarm projects like a mine construction site  as its footprint with truck movements varying from the norm.

  • Administrative

– Transaction cost
– Allocation of accountability

Trying to move risk from ourselves to someone else does’t work but results in higher costs.

Windfarms Bird Collision Model Ian Smales, Principal Zoologist, Biosis
50 commercial wind farms operating
Biodiversity for wind farm
Small footprint
Road network is the major impact
Flora and fauna impact small

Specialist investigations
Aerial surveys used to find and map breeding sites.  Migratory flight paths of birds documented.  A buffer zone then placed.
Ultrasonic call surveys undertaken to find bats

It seems a bit of a myth that large numbers of birds die in collision with windfarms.  This is due to information gathered from poorly designed windfarms in California
Initial site section is important and windfarms should be proactively designed to minimise potential risk of bird collision
Actual conclusions from data collected from 916 turbines in SE Australia, 8 windfarms over 9 yrs shows 121 individual collisions comprising 24 species of birds,  6 specks of bats.  A quarter of the bird collisions were magpies, 19% kestrels, 6% wedge tail eagles (equating to 8 actual wedge tail eagles)
This data can be compared to aviation data for bird strikes where we find 12,790 strikes for the 10 year period 2002 to 2012 which includes 90 eagles, 1,566 birds of prey and 767 bats.

Ian has developed a model for collision risk for birds
The model uses a cumulative assessment methodology and needs good demographic info on births (deaths and marriages).  Inputs to risk model take into account the species of birds and how rare they are.  eg there are only around 30 Orange bellied parrot left in the wild so if one is killed it is a great loss.
Helmeted honeyeaters have been well studied as are the Brolgas on south west Victoria. It is interesting to note that the population of Cranes (which are a simlar bird to the Brolga) in Europe number between 5000  to 7000 and migrate throughout Germany without many collisions with wind turbines.  It appears that risk of bird collisions with windfarms is low.  This is monitored by the number of dead animals found but is not conclusive due to predators on carcasses so needs to be in terms of total pop loss of a species.  The aim is to retain population

Moyne Case Study – Russell Guest
Moyne has 9 wind farms with current permits for 4 more,
MacArthur has 42 turbines and is the largest farm.
Windfarms are situated

      • in Lava flow country for good foundations,
      • are up to 90m-100m in height to catch the wind,
      • near the power grid that runs to Melbourne (There is one farm that has a permit issued seven years ago but is too far away from the grid to make it worthwhile developing further.)

Avoiding unacceptable impacts on flora and fauna is the aim.  Agreement is rarely  reached in the application stage.  Consultants studies guide councils to the significance of any flora and fauna.   Remnant native veg is beside the roadsides which is impacted by traffic.  Use of native vegetation offsets are generally found with native vegetation on the site destroyed.  Transmission lines pylons are required   to be located where they avoid native vegetation, the bigger issue of impact is in the access tracks.  It would be best for developers to try and get all the required native veg clearance permissions at once, with one offset plan to avoid administration
Major trucks are quarry trucks and the council doesn’t know which quarry the proponent is going to use until two weeks before construction commences.

The main contention of those opposed to windfarms is in the accuracy of the data.

Environment and noise impacts are monitored by council.

There is a need to pass on the knowledge and experiences of windfarms to give capacity to deal with it next time

Impacts of Windfarms on Roads – Norbert Michael, ARRB
Norbert took the delegates through the type of data required to be collected for local roads that may have windfarms construction traffic.

Establishing an adequate pre construction traffic condition baseline to determine the point in the pavements life cycle, then undertaking a survey during construction to make sure the construction traffic is operating in the expected way and along the expected routes and then post construction.  The data needs to look at the surface and the structural condition of the pavement and include traffic counts.

Using a Family life cycle costing approach is recommended to give you the tools for a defensible position

The MEFvic held a luncheon on Friday 26th July 2013 to award the receipients of the 2013 MEFvic Scholarships.

A summary of scholarships awarded in 2013 are

1. 2013 Overseas Study Tour Scholarships were awarded to

  • Brett Martini, Manager Engineering & Public Space, City of Greater Bendigo
  • Trevor Dando, Building Projects Coordinator, Bass Coast Shire Council
  • Ossie Martinz, Director Infrastrcutre Servies, City of Monash
  • Samantha Krull, Manager Major Projects, Wyndham City Council
  • Steven White, Director Infrastructure Services, Bayside City Council

2. Three scholarships to attend the 2013 International Public Works Conference in Darwin in August

3. Two scholarships at attend the 2013 National Works and Engineering Conference in Bendigo in September

4. 25 scholarships to students to attend the 2013 IPWEAvic Public Works Cofnenrece in Melbourne in March

The luncheon was generously sponsored by Soveriegn Finanical.

One of the 25 Students who received a scholarship to attend the 2013 IPWEAvic Public Works Conference in March spoke at the function.   Mardi Cuthbert, a 4th year student at Swinburne, gave a short inspriational acceptance speech which is reproduced below.

My name is Mardi Cuthbert, and I am a 4th year Civil Engineering student at Swinburne University of Technology.

I was privileged to attend the IPWEA Public Works Conference in March as an Student Scholarship holder. What myself and my fellow students experienced, was a fantastic practical insight into the important role that engineers play in the community, and where the future of public works engineering is headed.

I have been lucky enough to experience public works first hand. As part of my studies, I am completing a one year full-time placement at Banyule City Council. I think I can say that I’ve learnt just as much, if not more in my 7 months in Council, than I have in three years of classes so far.

When I say that I do engineering, a lot of people ask “Oh, so that’s maths and science, isn’t it?” Little do they know that those sums and equations we spend hours studying at university, can come to have a huge impact in the wider community. From designing a parking space, to creating the East West Link, public works engineers have an incredible potential to shape the world around us.

A few things stood out to me at the conference.

One was the challenges engineers face in making their engineering solutions a reality. What might look like a problem with a straightforward solution – when put into the context of the community – can become a contentious issue with many avenues of resolution. The challenges faced in affordability, funding, stakeholder and community engagement, urban planning and risk management all make public works engineering so much more than just maths and science.

The second was leadership. Many presenters, attendees of the conference, and I’m sure many in this room are Directors  and CEOs of Councils and related organisations. As a young engineer, it is inspiring to see that these leaders started their career right where I am now. At the conference, IPWEA National President and CEO of Campbelltown Council Paul Di Iucio spoke about his strategies for effective leadership, and about making a positive change – ‘doing the right thing for the right reasons.’ He shared a Steve Jobs quote, which I found particularly memorable – ‘Innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower’ – and that’s where I think we, as engineers, can come to make fantastic leaders in both public and private sectors.

And my last point is passion and reward. At the end of the day, public works engineering is about creating and fostering the community. From constructing a community hub for a rural council like the Pyrenees Shire, to building Peninsula Link, the engineers of the IPWEA are out there to make a positive change.

I’d like to thank the Municipal Engineers Foundation and IPWEA for sponsoring students to attend the conference. I found it a very worthwhile experience, which I look forward to developing on as I take the first steps in my professional career.

Thank you.


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