Mike Harding’s commitment to effective change and development in the building and construction sector are reflected in the numerous projects he has taken on in challenging areas, such as building in bushfire construction. A passionate leader and mentor, his contributions and insights have been highly regarded throughout industry.
Mike Harding began his career in 1965 in the building and construction industry as an apprentice carpenter. In 1977 he obtained a Diploma of Teaching, followed by a Bachelor of Education in 1983.
His first interaction with Standards Australia was when he began teaching his trade in the late 1970s. Having to use the Timber Framing Code, which included AS 1684 as part of the curriculum, Mr Harding didn’t think highly of the standard.
“I reached out to Standards Australia and let them know what needed fixing. It wasn’t until I joined years later that the fixes were made,” Mr Harding said.
Mr Harding spoke about this very standard in 2016 when he was awarded Standards Australia’s W.R Hebblewhite Award for his extensive contributions to standards development. He was recognised as ‘a man of outstanding integrity and decency and [one who] upholds the spirit of the standards development process in everything that [he] does.’
“Being a part of the review of that standard was the greatest involvement I had with Standards Australia,” Mr Harding said.
“I don't recall ever having arguments or disagreements. Everyone on the committee was an expert in their area of interest and we all had a common goal and belief that things needed to be changed for the better and also be cost effective.”
Mr Harding’s experience in education and his extensive technical expertise positioned him well to take on the role of National Technical Director at Master Builders Australia (MBA) in 1995. From there he was appointed as National Manager for building codes and standards with the Housing Industry Association (HIA) from which he retired in 2018.
Shortly after his retirement, in 2019, Mr Harding was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to the building and construction industry.
Until his retirement Mr Harding represented the construction sector on numerous Standards Australia national committees including BD-021, Doors and Windows, FP-020, Construction in Bushfire Prone Areas, BD-001, Steel Structures, and more. In his time with HIA and MBA, he has been influential in working to represent the interests of the building and construction sector.
Mr Harding, a keen advocate for the industry and its wholistic improvement where both consumers and workers can benefit. He works tirelessly to review documents, provide comments and goes above and beyond to ensure that the interests of his constituents are represented and the outcomes effective.
In the decades that Mr Harding has been an active contributor to the building and construction industry, he has seen incredible development.
“When I was an apprentice, we did everything by hand. The only ‘power tool’ we had was a power saw,” he said.
“We didn’t have span tables and there was no emphasis on engineering. Now, everything is done using cordless power tools, and the technology and methodologies have led to far more engineering focussed solutions.”
Mr Harding has advice for the young apprentices who will shape the industry for decades to come.
“To be passionate and to be good at your work, you must enjoy it. I recommend getting to know Simon Croft as well,” he said.
Mr Harding and Mr Croft worked together at HIA, with some jesting that the two were clones of one another.
“Mike Harding embodies what it means to be a standards hero,” said Adam Stingemore, Standards Australia’s General Manager of Engagement and Communications.
“His ability to combine methodology and technique and incorporate them into standards through hard work and skilful advocacy has shaped industry for decades and Standards Australia takes immense pride in recognising him as a trailblazing Standards Hero.”