1. Corporate Registration

s38 of the Surveyors Act 2003 covers corporation eligibility for registration and registration endorsement. 

Specifically, s38(3) of the Surveyors Act 2003 provides:

The corporation must employ or have as one of its executive officers—

(a)          a surveyor who holds a registration endorsement as a consulting surveyor; and

(b)          if the corporation requires an endorsement other than as a consulting surveyor—a surveyor who holds the registration endorsement required.

The Board holds the view that the word ‘employ’ in s38(3) implies an employment arrangement that is of a continuous nature.   The surveyor must be employed at all times, ie. on a permanent basis. 

Examples of a continuous employment arrangement may include a permanent full-time or permanent part-time employment arrangement. In the event that the employment is permanent part-time, the Board’s view is that the total amount of hours worked on a part-time basis must be sufficient in terms of the duties performed and the time engaged in such duties to justify the continuance of the registration.

Where a corporation is applying for:

  1. registration renewal; or
  2. registration for the first time; or
  3. a change to their Nominated Surveyor

……… and the ‘Nominated Surveyor’ is an ‘Employee’, the Board may ask the corporation to provide evidence that supports the claim that the employment arrangement is of a continuous nature.  A registration or Nominated Surveyor change may be declined if there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that the employment arrangement is of a continuous nature.

2. CER submissions

CER submissions are now to be made to the Board office in both hard copy and electronic format. 

1              Survey Plans – Retaining Walls

The Board has recently written to a number of surveyors for failing to record the location of retaining walls on survey plans when the retaining wall is close to the boundary. This is specifically the case with new sub-divisions. While the Board accepts that it is possible for the survey to be completed and the plan lodged before the retaining wall is built the Board is also aware of cases where the retaining walls were in place at the time of survey and no reference was made on the plan to the location of the retaining wall.

The Board refers all surveyors to Section 3.20 of the Cadastral Survey Requirements which states:

3.20 Encroachment and improvements on or near a boundary

The size, nature and location of any encroachment, and other improvements on or near a boundary, must be shown on all survey plans lodged or deposited with the department. Guidelines for depiction of these on plans are given at section 9.7 Buildings and other improvements on or near a boundary.

There are a number of provisions of the Survey and Mapping Infrastructure Regulation 2014 regarding improvements on or near the boundary:

  1. Section 9(2)(a) provides for the recording of information about permanent improvements on the land that are used as reference points for the survey.
  • Section 10(1) provides some examples of “a party affected by a boundary”.
  • Section 10(2)(e) requires any encroachment to be identified and the owner to be notified where a substantial encroachment exists.
  • Section 17 requires the position to be recorded of any encroachment, and any permanent improvement that affects, or is affected by, a reinstatement.
  • Section 18 requires that the owner of land who may be adversely affected by a reinstatement be notified.

2              Use of Drones for Surveys

The Board takes this opportunity to remind surveyors that the use of drones for business purposes requires compliance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) guidelines which require licences or certifications to be held subject to the proposed use of the drone, eg flying at night or flying closer than 30 metres.

3              Executive Officer

The Board’s Executive Officer, Mr Murray Fox will retire effective from 31 July 2020. The Board recently completed an extensive selection process and appointed Mr David Jenkins to the role. David will commence with the Board on 15 June 2020 which will hopefully provide for a smooth transition.

1              Tender Submissions – Certificate of Currency

The Board regularly receives requests from surveyors/corporations for a “Certificate of Currency” which lists the level of registration held by an individual or corporation eg, registered surveyor with consulting and cadastral endorsements, plus the period the registration is valid for.

The Certificate of Currency is generally required to support a tender submission or submissions to government departments or agencies eg Transport and Main Roads, Standing Offer Arrangement.

The Board has recently received a number of requests from surveyors as they are seeking to make a submission to provide cadastral services to Transport and Main Roads (TMR) via a Standing Offer Arrangement which is renewed and updated on a yearly basis by TMR.

The Board has held discussions with TMR officials and advised that on renewal of registration, each surveyor or corporation receives an email notification from the Board advising,

  1. the level of registration held,
  2. any endorsement held, and
  3. the period the registration is valid eg 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020.

TMR have advised a copy of the confirmation of registration renewal email which contains the Board logo, would be satisfactory to confirm registration status and no additional Certificate of Currency is required. The Board consider the same email document would satisfy most tender specifications which require confirmation of registration status. The Board website contains a search facility and this is the best way to confirm up to date registration status. The search result when printed contains the date of the search and confirms registration status as at that date.

The Board requests all surveyors to retain their email confirmation of renewal of registration and provide a copy of this document to support registration status in tender and public submissions. Alternatively, the search result from the Board website could be printed to support proof of current registration status.

2              Surveyor Competency Assessment – COVID-19

The majority of surveying graduates have commenced the process of demonstrating surveyor competency via the submission of career episode reports (CER).  With the current COVID-19 pandemic and governments restricting people movement the Board brings to the attention of surveying graduates that this may be an opportune time to gather the necessary evidence and documentation to assist with the preparation of CERs. This documentation will then be available for preparing CERs especially, if home restrictions are strengthened further by government.

CER submissions can continue to be made to the Board office in electronic format and the requirement for a printed (hard) copy will be postponed until further notice. The Board will continue to assess CER submissions received via email.  Please be aware the Board does not have access to survey software and that all documents should be sent on Word, PDF or similar formats.

3              Board Office – COVID-19  

At present, the Board office remains fully operational with a mix of attending the office and working remotely.  With the possibility that restrictions on peoples’ movement may be strengthened further, it is likely more work will be performed remotely.

The Board requests that if possible, all communication with the Board be via email. If you need to telephone the Board office and staff are working remotely a telephone message will provide the mobile phone numbers of staff.

Board email contact details are

Executive officer                              eo@sbq.com.au

Administration officer                    admin@sbq.com.au

Training Advocate                           ta@sbq.com.au

On 12 December 2019, the Governor in Council approved the three year appointment of Mr Kenneth Cross to the Board and reappointed Dr Glenn Campbell, Mrs Karen Norton, Ms Darlene Skennar QC, to the Board.  Continuing on the Board are Peter Murphy (Chair), Russell Priebbenow, Michael Arnold, Alasdair Begley and Neesha Pierce.

KEN CROSS – Grad Dip Spatial Science (USQ), A.I.M.S (member), Reg Surv (Min O, Min UC, Min UM, Eng)

Ken is a Mine Surveyor who has worked extensively in the Bowen Basin over the past 40 years. During this time he also worked on several large infrastructure and engineering projects in Queensland.

Ken was an Officer in the Australian Army with 1st Topographic Survey Squadron for 10 years and he is a Director of the Australian Institute of Mine Surveyors.

The new Board is:

Peter Murphy (Chair) – Brazier Motti Pty Ltd

Russell Priebbenow – Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy

Glenn Campbell – University of Southern Queensland

Karen Norton – Masters Surveying Pty Ltd

Michael Arnold – Arnold Development Consultants Pty ltd

Alasdair Begley – Saunders Havill Group Pty Ltd

Kenneth Cross – Glencore – Rolleston Coal

Darlene Skennar QC – Barrister

Neesha Pierce – Solicitor

The first meeting of the new board was on 30 January 2020.

The following information is provided to advise of the introduction and applicability of Project Bank Accounts for building work which may include survey related work.


In 2017, the Queensland Government introduced a suite of reforms to the building and construction industry through the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (the BIF Act). As part of these reforms, Project Bank Accounts (PBAs) were introduced to safeguard progress payments, protect retention monies and allow for more timely payments to subcontractors.

Which projects require a Project Bank Account?

For Phase 1, which commenced on 1 March 2018, PBAs will apply to contractors and consultants where:

  1. the Queensland Government is the Principal under the contract;
  2. the contract value is between $1 million and $10 million (incl. GST);
  3. at least one subconsultant is engaged under the head contract; AND
  4. more than 50% of the contract price is for ‘building work’ (see details of ‘building work’ below).

Building work under the BIF Act (s8) includes:

  • the preparation of plans or specifications for the performance of building work;
  • work performed by architects, engineers, and surveyors to the extent the work relates to other building work;
  • contract administration carried out in relation to the construction of a building designed by a person; and
  • any site work related to building work (as defined under the Act).

If a consultancy contract meets these requirements, the consultant will be required to establish a PBA and meet all the obligations of a head contractor under Chapter 2 – Project Bank Accounts – of the BIF Act.

Building Work – Exclusion

Please note: civil, engineering and infrastructure projects such as bridges, roads and tunnels and public transport infrastructure (such as busways, roads, and railways) are not ‘building work’ for PBA purposes. (Therefore, the PBA requirements also do not apply to architectural, engineering, design, planning or site work associated with these construction activities).

What is a Project Bank Account?

A PBA is a set of three trust accounts where funds are held in trust until payments are due. If a PBA is required for a consultancy contract, all subconsultants engaged MUST be paid only from the PBA. The consultant and subconsultants are beneficiaries of the three trust accounts and, in events such as insolvency, the PBA accounts secure the progress payments, amounts in dispute and retention monies until they are due to be paid out.

Information Sessions

The Department of Housing and Public Works is implementing PBAs throughout Queensland. In Phase 1, contracts with Queensland Government departments could require a PBA to be set up if several further criteria or thresholds are met. In Phase 2, expected to commence in 2019, all contracts over $1 million (including consultancy contracts) with local governments, statutory bodies, and the private sector will also be included.

The Department of Housing and Public Works is currently providing information sessions to head contractors and consultants (architects, engineers, surveyors, project managers) in urban and regional areas.  The Department has offered to provide a tailored information session for surveyors.

If you would like to attend an information session please email the Board office admin@sbq.com.au.

Form 16 Certification – Boundary Location

The Board continues to receive advice that Form 16 certifications concerning the location of buildings in relation to a property boundary are being provided by people who are not qualified to provide the certification, as they are not registered cadastral surveyors.

The Board published the Guideline – Surveys relating to Property Boundaries and the guideline contains the following:

Who can provide a certification of location in respect to a property boundary?

If a certification is required regarding the location of any building, improvement, or utility in relation to a property boundary, this must be provided by a registered cadastral surveyor. This includes a Form 16 certification in relation to boundary clearances of a building per s18A of the Building Regulations 2006 relating to the Building Act 1975.


Improvements near boundaries

Cadastral surveyors are reminded that they are to record and show the location of improvements on or near boundaries. This is a requirement of Cadastral Standard 3.20 (CSR V7.1). The requirement applies to both new and existing boundaries.

In addition to this, the Survey and Mapping Infrastructure Regulation (s.17) requires the position to be recorded of any encroachment and any permanent improvement that affects, or is affected by, a reinstatement. The following section (s.18) requires that the surveyor notify the owner of land who may be adversely affected by a reinstatement. It is not a requirement that a notification be issued for every improvement that is recorded near a boundary, if there is not a potential adverse effect.

A ‘rule of thumb’ for assessing whether or not an owner may be adversely affected is to put yourself in the shoes of that owner, and ask “If the owner was a reasonable person, would they expect to be informed about that?”

The regulation (s.10) also has specific requirements about encroachments, both in terms of recording and notification. Questions sometimes arise as to whether a retaining wall is an encroachment. If there is doubt about which party is the beneficiary of a retaining wall, it should not be described as an encroachment in a notification to owners.

2 March 2018

Registration Issues

The Board has received requests from employers to issue registration renewals direct to the employer instead of the individual registrant, and in some cases to reissue the tax invoice in the name of the employer.

The Board’s responsibility is linked to the registrant and to maintain the required statutory information for each registrant. The Board readily accepts that some employers pay fees for their staff. However, this is an arrangement between the employer and their staff.  It is the registrant’s responsibility to complete and lodge any forms and pay the prescribed fee.

Some employers have also requested that, for new registration applications or applications for competency assessment, the Board issue a tax invoice to the employer before they will pay the prescribed fee. The Board has to comply with the legislative requirements of the Surveyors Act 2003 (the Act) and an application for initial registration must be on the approved form and accompanied by the application and registration fees per s 45(1) of the Act. For a competency assessment application, s 44(2) of the Act states an application must be made and accompanied by the assessment fee.

The Board takes this opportunity to advise that the Board has a responsibility to deal directly with each individual registrant for all matters relating to registration and that:

  • any tax invoices issued by the Board will be issued to and in the name of the individual registrant;
  • when the requirements for renewal of registration have been met, an email is sent to the registrant confirming finalisation of the renewal and receipt of the prescribed fee;
  • if the employer has an arrangement with staff to pay Board fees on behalf of the employee, this is a matter between the employer and the employee;
  • applications to the Board must be accompanied by the fee prescribed under the Act;
  • a registrant’s application is not complete unless the prescribed fee has been paid. The application will not be processed until the payment is received and any other requirements are met;
  • the Board will not receive an application and then prepare and forward a tax invoice for the applicable fees to either the individual registrant or the nominated employer;
  • all Board fees are disclosed on the Board website and can be determined at the time of preparing and lodging the application with the Board; and
  • the majority of board fees are exempt from GST.

Restoration Policy

At the February 2018 Board meeting, the Board agreed to amend the Restoration Policy to include the consulting endorsement. The Board will permit a surveyor who previously held a consulting endorsement to seek restoration of the endorsement within a two-year period since the endorsement lapsed.

On 21 December 2017, the Governor in Council approved the three-year appointment of Peter Murphy (Chair), Michael Arnold, and Alasdair Begley to the Board.  Continuing on the Board are Russell Priebbenow, Glenn Campbell, Karen Norton, Darlene Skennar QC, and Neesha Pierce.

Outgoing chair Peter Sippel and former board member John Carroll both served on the Board for ten years and provided significant contributions to both the Board and the surveying profession.

Peter Murphy
B.Surv (UQ), FSSSI, Reg Surv (Cad, Eng, Cons), GAICD
Peter is a Director and an owner of consulting survey and town planning firm Brazier Motti which operates across North Queensland. He graduated with a Bachelor of Surveying from the University of Queensland in 1979 and has subsequently obtained additional postgraduate qualifications in Surveying and Mapping Studies from UQ, and is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Peter commenced his professional career with the Australian Government moving to private practice in 1991.

Mike Arnold
Mike holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Surveying) degree and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Urban and Regional Town Planning and is a registered consulting cadastral surveyor. He is a director and member of the Regional Management Group of the Spatial Industries Business Association, a member of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute and a member of the Urban Development Institute of Australia.  Mike works on the Gold Coast in his own business Arnold Development Consultants and has over 25 years’ experience in the surveying/spatial sciences industry.

Alasdair Begley
Alasdair holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Surveying) degree and an Executive MBC from the Queensland University of Technology.  Alasdair is a registered cadastral surveyor and a Board member of Queensland Spatial and Surveying Association, and a member of the Spatial Industry Business Association, Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Property Council of Australia. Alasdair is the Managing Director of the Saunders Havill Group in Brisbane and has over 15 years of surveying experience.

The new Board is:

Peter Murphy (Chair)    Brazier Motti Pty Ltd
Russell Priebbenow       Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
Glenn Campbell             University of Southern Queensland
Karen Norton                 MPA Surveying Pty Ltd
Michael Arnold              Arnold Development Consultants Pty Ltd
Alasdair Begley              Saunders Havill Group Pty Ltd
Darlene Skennar QC      Barrister
Neesha Pierce                 Solicitor

Mr Ken Cross is advisor to the Board on mine surveying related matters.

The first meeting of the new Board is 1 February 2018.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Below is a summary of matters that have come before the Board in recent months.

Survey Practice

Case 1

The Board received information from DNRM about the survey practices of a consulting cadastral surveyor. The Board appointed an investigator to review four surveys to determine if there was any evidence of professional misconduct.  After receiving the investigator’s report the Board commenced professional conduct disciplinary proceedings against the surveyor in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

The disciplinary charges before QCAT addressed the following issues:

  • failure to adequately search for cadastral evidence
  • failure to adequately search for physical evidence
  • failure to adequately reinstate existing cadastral boundaries
  • failure to adequately mark existing cadastral boundaries
  • failure to adequately prepare plans suitable for Government Land Registries
  • failure to use adequate redundant measurements to validate data
  • failure to standardise survey instrument

During the QCAT process the surveyor agreed to cancel his consulting endorsement and only perform cadastral surveys under the supervision of a nominated consulting cadastral surveyor, and to contribute to the Board’s costs of the investigation.

Case 2

The Board received an official complaint from DNRM concerning the professional practices of a surveying corporation and the failure to address the error on a plan when advised. The initial evidence before the Board was that a cadastral survey:

  • was not completed in compliance with survey standards
  • relied on limited cadastral evidence
  • failed to connect to available occupation and reference marks
  • left duplicate corner marks (original and new)

The Board appointed an investigator to identify what survey marks and evidence were in the field and if those marks were accurately located.  Following the investigation, the matter was referred to a Professional Conduct Review Panel (PCRP).  The PCRP found two of the four charges were proven. A fine and costs order was imposed.

Case 3

The Board received information regarding possible unprofessional conduct by a surveying corporation which indicated that a plan had been signed with an OPM over 13m away from the position shown. A number of other subsequent plans had been certified and lodged containing the same incorrect reference to the PSM.   Following investigation, the matter was referred to a PCRP.  The PCRP found the charges were proven. A fine and costs order was imposed.

Case 4

The Board received information from DNRM about the survey practices of a corporation with consulting and cadastral endorsements.  The issue of concern to the Board was that marks as listed on the plan had not been placed. The Board appointed an investigator and it was confirmed that marks had not been placed. The Board required the surveyor to return and place all marks as listed on the plan.

Case 5

The Board received information that indicated that a consulting cadastral surveyor had represented the work of another surveyor as his own. The Board appointed an investigator regarding the possible unprofessional conduct and breaches of the code of practice.  After receiving the investigator’s report the Board commenced professional conduct disciplinary proceedings via a PCRP. The charges were proven and the surveyor ordered to pay the costs of the investigation.

Cadastral surveys by non-cadastral surveyors

Case 1

The Board received information from a cadastral surveyor that indicated that cadastral surveys were being performed by a surveying graduate without the supervision of a registered cadastral surveyor.  The Board appointed an investigator to determine if there was evidence of cadastral surveys being performed by the surveying graduate for a fee. The investigator found significant evidence that the surveying graduate was performing cadastral surveys for a fee.  The Board initiated disciplinary charges for professional misconduct and the matter was heard by the PCRP.  The charges were found to be proved and a fine and costs order was imposed.  The surveying graduate lodged an appeal with QCAT. QCAT upheld the Board’s decision and ordered the fine and costs be paid.

Case 2

The Board received information that a surveying associate was carrying on a business providing cadastral surveying services to the public when not a consulting cadastral surveyor. While the surveying associate had an arrangement with a consulting cadastral surveyor, clients were generally sourced by the associate who dealt with the client and then performed the survey.   The Board appointed an independent investigator to determine if there was evidence a cadastral surveying business was being operated by the surveying associate.  Following investigation, the matter was referred to a PCRP.  The PCRP found the charges were proven. A costs order was imposed.

9 May 2017

The  joint government and private industry Three Dimensional Queensland Taskforce (3dQLD), was tasked with defining a roadmap from the current centuries old land surveying practice and law, to a modernised, efficient system suitable to meet the needs of the 21st century.

Modern technology now permits 3D digital positional certainty of property boundaries and associated Rights, Responsibilities and Restrictions.  Enhanced spatial data is now readily available to assist with more efficient and accurate public and private decision making. The 3D model provides the foundational data framework on which Building Information Models, Infrastructure asset models and a myriad of other digital spatial models can be incorporated with positional integrity.

The linked brochure outlines the progress to date and highlights how important the Phase 2 roadmap is to the Queensland government and industry.  The briefing was presented Friday 28th April 2017 to a group of key industry delegates from government and private enterprise.

More information can be found on the 3dQLD website at 3dqld.org/.