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. 

As reported on the ABC the drought is getting worse particularly in northern parts of the state. It’s now being described by the Bureau of Meteorology as the worst in over 100 years and towns such as Tenterfield and Walcha are close to running out of water. Sheila and I lived in Goulburn during the drought of 1982 and 1983 when the town very nearly ran out of water. I was working for the late Russell Kell at the time and we greatly enjoyed our time there. The town was on extreme water restrictions and we would travel to Canberra each weekend to do our washing at our parent’s places. There were no water restrictions in Canberra at the time due, I assume, due to the existence of a secure water supply. The Goulburn community adapted to the restrictions although the gardens paid a high price. The government built the Pejar dam and later a pipeline to provide a secure water supply and disaster was averted. The railways even experimented with carting water from Canberra but in the end,  it was not required. Goulburn people have not forgotten the lessons of harsh water restrictions. A recent report showed that Goulburn’s water consumption is currently the same as it would be if the town was on level three water restrictions. Goulburn residents have adapted to permanent water wise practices. All country towns need a secure water supply and as demonstrated by the Goulburn experience, once provided, the community will respond accordingly.

As reported by the Newcastle Herald recently the town of Murrurundi two hours west of Newcastle on the Great Dividing Range has been on level 6 water restrictions for the last year. The endless dry spell has pushed the town’s population of 850 to the brink, both mentally and physically. The local council has been trucking water in for the last year. I know the area well, having spent many days some years ago investigating a route for a gas pipeline from Newcastle to Queensland through the nearby Nowlands Gap. As the editorial said:

“For a long time, climate change deniers have argued Australia has always had droughts and high temperatures but its traditional conservative farmers who are breaking away from the deniers to say what we’ve experienced over the past few years is extraordinary”.

The drought extends across most of the state from the Far West to the Northern Tablelands and the Central West. Our thoughts are with our country colleagues and their families, friends and clients in this very difficult time. Unfortunately, as I write there is no end in sight.

As an aside, my time surveying in Goulburn was an unforgettable experience. My boss at the time, Russell Kell, did not believe in 4WD’s - initially - yet most of the jobs were in the country. We drove a Holden ute towing two 125cc Ag bikes. Once on the job we did all the field work by motor bike. I had ridden a bike before but not in such steep county. Meanwhile my chainman rode a Honda 750 so he was in his element. We carried the jigger and EDM in backpacks with the legs, axe etc square to the bike on the back. I vividly recall gunning the bike through a gate, at the end of the day, forgetting I had a set of legs lashed on the back. Disaster, but no harm done. We all had a good laugh. I have never met anyone else who did surveying by motor bike. Later Russell bought a small Suzuki 4WD, which was a perfect survey vehicle, as you could take it anywhere, but it was slow on the highway. Azimuth would appreciate any surveying stories that you might have.

I was able to attend the recent ISNSW Cumberland Group seminar at Liverpool to meet members and, in particular, to announce the elevation of Narelle Underwood, Surveyor General, to Fellow. You can read the citation elsewhere in Azimuth. I also caught up with Paul Daley who told me about a story on A Current Affair recently involving a man who bought a block of land with a small house at Marsden Park. He has lived there for some years and has now discovered he does not own it – the Council owns it and plans to build a road on the land. His land is 40 metres further on. He should have engaged a Registered Surveyor to do an Identification survey.

You can find the article on the web – Man gutted after finding out he doesn’t own land he has lived on for years.

The moral of the story is that a land purchaser must always do some due diligence. In the past a conveyancer would have recommended an identification survey but these have been replaced by title insurance. Lesson learnt. We need to know these case studies so we can inform our clients and the next generation of young surveyors.

I was pleased to learn recently that Land Registry Services have decided to reintroduce a 1300 phone number for regional customers. This follows discussions with the stakeholders particularly the Law Society. I understand that the new number will be available to regional customers by the time this goes to press.

We are slowly expanding our CPD webinar program. I have arranged for our two BOSSI representatives to present a 1-hour webinar each on a cadastral topic. The first was held on July 26 but was not recorded due to the sensitive nature of the topic. The next cadastral webinar will be held in late September and will be recorded for viewing later if required. I am pleased to note that BOSSI now allow CPD points to be earned by viewing a webinar after the live event. The webinars are accessible by contacting the ISNSW office. This is particularly helpful for those surveyors who find themselves short a point or two at the end of the CPD year or those who live interstate.

The biggest challenge we face however, is finding enough presenters to ensure a steady and regular program of webinars, both cadastral and survey/mining practice. I urge members to come forward with suggestions of topics and appropriate presenters, so we can continue to expand this important component of our CPD program. I am sure that every survey firm has a number of interesting cadastral case studies in its files which could make for an interesting cadastral webinar. Please consider.

The Sydney apartment crisis continues. The latest revelation is about a development of multi-story units in Erskineville which have been completed for a year but the final signoff allowing occupation has been delayed due to a failure to meet remediation requirements. As anyone in residential development knows, generally, a building project includes regular staged inspections during the construction with sign offs required before the developer can proceed to the next stage. The obvious question, in this case, is how did the developer get permission to begin construction, let alone proceed to completion, before the contamination issues had been dealt with? I guess we will find out eventually.

At the end of July, I attended the Institution of Surveyors Victoria seminar and dinner at St Kilda. And in August I will attend the South East Asian Survey Conference in Darwin.

Till next month.

Tony Proust
Meritorious Surveyor
President ISNSW

August 2019

Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Bossi SSSI Consulting Surveyors SMIC