Flushing away professionalism : is it unsustainable?
Khalife, Mohsen and Lustig, Terry 2005, Flushing away professionalism : is it unsustainable?, in On-site '05 : Performance Assessment for On-site Systems : Regulation, Operation and Monitoring : Proceedings of On-site `05 Conference, Lanfax Laboratories, Armidale, N.S.W., pp. 273-279.
On-site '05 : Performance Assessment for On-site Systems : Regulation, Operation and Monitoring : Proceedings of On-site `05 Conference
Patterson, R. A. Jones, M. J.
Place of publication
Recently, a family was denied the right to subdivide their four-hectare property on the outskirts of Melbourne, Victoria into nine residential allotments ranging in size from 4000 m2 to 6600 m2. Unsuccessful applications and approaches in the past, prior to our commissioning in late 2003, had been rejected on the basis of assessments of poor land capability, onerous wet weather storage requirements and a curious 60 m buffer from a nearby intermittent watercourse. Restriction on the type of interim wastewater systems deemed suitable for five allotments was also a major issue. The site did not have mains power and had no sewer connections. The water authority and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (V CAT) order, prior to commissioning of the authors, asserted that "reticulated sewer is the preferred infrastructure for the area under investigation". However, the requirements imposed followed the letter of the guidelines rather than the principles. Various professional reports had already been produced on behalf of both the client and the regulator. A review of these indicated that the project had not been assessed in accordance with standard practices, had unusually restrictive assumptions, and did not accord with government policies on ecologically sustainable development. The paper highlights the importance of sustaining professional and ethical practices to avoid costly litigation. Some professionals may have been in breach of the Institution of Engineers' Code of Ethics; others may have been in need of professional development. The question also arises whether the regulator had sought to use these adverse reports in order to satisfy unrelated planning issues. While the writers managed to succeed in convincing the VCAT that these restrictions were unnecessary, the client ultimately had to comply with the regulator's wishes because of financial pressures. This unnecessary regimentation raises the issue of how best to safeguard lay people of moderate means against the practices of professional people who know or should know better.