Conference delegates told to profit or perish

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) was thrilled to welcome over 150 delegates to our annual State Conference where, over two days, we discussed a range of issues impacting operators and the broader industry.

The conference theme, Profit or Perish – Achieving Sustained Success in Transport, was widely lauded as being most appropriate at a time when operators face incredible pressure to maintain positive balance sheets.

The past 12 months have seen cost increases impact supply chains everywhere, but especially for road transport operators.

We’ve had infrastructure surcharge increases from all the stevedores in Melbourne and elsewhere around the country. Road charges are increasing exponentially – whether it be fuel and excises, registration, insurance or tolls. Also, the threat of industrial action is arguably the greatest it’s been for a long time, with the possibility of future super unions – like we’ve seen with the merger of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) – having far-reaching negative impacts on employers and supply chains nationally.

So, there is a lot happening to put upward pressure on costs for operators who, in years gone past, would typically wear the increases rather than risk losing business to competitors.

We need to shift this attitude, educating not only customers, but consumers as well, that increases in costs are going to be passed on through the supply chain, and ultimately to the end-users of the goods transported by operators.
If we don’t do this there’s a real risk that operators will not have cost recovery–increases accepted and will therefore go under, which is not good for anyone.

The VTA has been advocating for policy that supports operators to be successful in business, whether it be new road, rail and port infrastructure to streamline the freight task, or new ways of operating to create efficiencies for various participants in the supply chain.
An example of this is our advocacy for a Victorian freight authority, to provide government with the perspective of the transport industry when it comes to decisions impacting planning and development, roads and infrastructure, user charges, the environment and other public policy matters.

Early on, the requirements of operators need to be factored into the decisions being made by regulators and legislators, which is why we are pushing for the creation of an authority like this to ensure your unique needs are being looked after.

Elsewhere, community amenity continues to be a big issue for the VTA. I have been talking about it in many forums to help people understand logistics and supply chains, and to be more receptive to heavy vehicles on our roads.

We are getting closer to a really encouraging outcome with resident groups in the inner west of Melbourne, near the port, who for some time have been concerned about the impacts of heavy vehicle movements.

We’re working on a solution that will create a range of improvements and set new standards for driver training, instruction and vehicle emissions. Ultimately, the aim is to create better harmony between passenger and commercial road users.
Behind the scenes, we’re continuing our work to encourage better driver standards.

The training and education programs we are running with the support of the Victorian Government have been warmly embraced by industry.

Our Transition to Transport program is helping to educate new participants in the industry about the complexities of supply chain logistics, while our Driver Delivery program is helping to attract and train new drivers, and place them in paid employment.
Heavy vehicle licensing and the assessment process is a key activity for the VTA, upon which outcomes of competency-based training, including skills and attitude, will see current licensing processes reviewed and developed to bring a higher standard of skill, and a lower driving age for heavy vehicle drivers in our industry.

The system we have now does not reflect the standards of safety, skill and competency the industry and the community now demand. These processes have not been reviewed to this scale for decades and we are looking for Victoria to lead the way, with the full support of the transport industry.

Planning is already well under way for next year’s conference and I sincerely thank sponsors, speakers and delegates for their phenomenal support.

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