Regional operators indispensable for prosperity

VTA CEO and ARTIO National Secretary, Peter Anderson.

After a three-year hiatus during the pandemic, the VTA was pleased to resume its popular series of Victorian Regional Forums, with visits conducted to Bendigo, Mildura, and Wangaratta, to meet with regional members, operators, and other industry stakeholders.

Over the years, the Forums have been a valuable way to engage with regional members we aren’t able to regularly see, as well as share important industry, productivity, and safety updates to our friends in rural Victoria.

This year was no exception, with our Forums delivering road and workplace safety updates through the involvement of our presenting partners Victoria Police, Worksafe Victoria, and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, along with sponsor TWUSUPER. Worksafe’s presentation had a particular focus on efforts to reduce lives lost in transport.

Over the past two years in Victoria 18 of the 25 heavy vehicle drivers lost were from the road freight sector.

Injury prevention is also a major focus, with transport occupying a high number of claims alongside construction and manufacturing.

Vehicle incidents, falls from heights, and body stressing occupy the most Worksafe claims in transport, along with mental health claims related to pressure and stress at work. NHVR provided a comprehensive overview about how technology is helping them enforce national heavy vehicle law.

Equipment on NHVR has immense capabilities with respect to identifying defective or suspect vehicles, with mobile cameras able to provide insights into intelligence through registration scans.

Situational alerts can then be sent out to officers on patrol for follow up and investigation. Victoria Police Heavy Vehicle Unit, along with regional officers in Bendigo and Mildura, outlined key issues for them including fatigue, speed, vehicle roadworthiness, drugs and alcohol, and seatbelts.

It was also sobering to hear stories of officers responding to fatalities, and the lifelong impact this can have on our first responders.

In the context of our Forums, it’s worth reflecting on the pivotal role regional operators play in sustaining the metropolitan and regional economies.

In many ways, they are the lifeblood of economic vitality, facilitating the movement of goods and commodities crucial to various industries.

They link states’ vast regions to one another and to national and international markets, ensuring agricultural produce, manufactured goods, and raw materials can reach their intended destinations efficiently.

With agriculture the backbone of regional Australia, freight operators play an indispensable role in getting agricultural products to markets, here and abroad.

Whether it’s transporting grains, livestock, dairy, or fresh produce, these operators ensure that farmers can access markets and consumers can enjoy fresh, local produce.

Regional Australia also hosts a significant manufacturing sector, which relies heavily on efficient transportation of raw materials, components, and finished products. Freight operators provide the necessary logistics infrastructure to support manufacturing operations, helping industries remain competitive and viable.

Tourism is a major contributor to Australia’s economy, and freight operators facilitate this by ensuring that tourist destinations are well-supplied.

From food and beverages to equipment and construction materials for tourism infrastructure, these operators enable the smooth functioning of the tourism industry.

Our industry generates jobs and economic growth in regional areas. It provides employment opportunities for drivers, logistics professionals, maintenance workers, and administrative staff.

Moreover, the industry’s growth fuels demand for related services, contributing to overall economic expansion.

Efficient supply chains are crucial for businesses to remain competitive. Regional freight operators play a pivotal role in optimising supply chains by ensuring timely and cost-effective movement of goods.

This efficiency translates into cost savings for businesses and consumers.

This year’s Forums have been a terrific way to engage with members and hear of their issues and concerns, many of which reflect those of metropolitan areas.

Regional businesses are being impacted just as hard by labour shortages, cost increases and infrastructure concerns.

Visiting our members in their own backyards has been a powerful and instructive experience and they can rest assured we have their interests at heart as we advocate for better outcomes for freight operators.

Peter Anderson

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