Chapter 47

1971- 1972 Conversion to Metric system

By now I had been appointed Engineer Class II and at times acting as Engineer Class III when the Supervising Structural Engineer was absent and everyone stepped up one grade on to higher duties. Ian had bought a trimaran, a 30 foot Nichols design which needed some work to fix it and this gave him an interest away from the motel. I was having trouble with the outboard motor, a Tohatsu and ended up selling it to Ian and buying a new Chrysler 20 HP outboard for $600 so now we could go out with a reliable motor.

1971-72 was a busy period with a lot of work following through with the development of the Oakey Army Air facility. There were so many interesting projects which had passed through the section including the Post Office Administrative Block designed by consultants, the Bulimba PMG Workshop and Machine Shop built on a swamp, Commonwealth Offices in the city, Mt. Bellenden Ker Cable way by consultants and light house towers with weather station for Euston Reef and Saumerez Reef, designed in house.

In 1970 the Commonwealth Government, through the Minister for Education and Science, Malcolm Fraser, announced that Australia would progressively convert to the sole use of the metric system. A Metric Conversion Board was set up to plan for this. The Building and Construction Industry was to be the first approved by the Government commencing its conversion immediately and to complete the change by 1976. Hans Milton was appointed Director of Metric Conversion for the Commonwealth Department of Works and was responsible for the compilation of the Metric Construction Handbook which was self-explanatory and gave background and time-tables for conversion in the construction industry.

The Commonwealth Department of Works was a key part of this and was scheduled for conversion by the end of 1973 with a carry-over to 1975. Liaison officers were nominated to ensure the information on hand was distributed and be a point of contact for queries or comments for each region and I was nominated for this for the Brisbane Office. The documentation was well prepared and this was not an onerous job once one accepted the fact we were going metric.

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