VTA names WFD Chalmers Award recipients

The Victorian Transport Association has honoured two of the Australian transport industry’s greatest contributors with one of its highest accolades.

At the annual VTA President’s Dinner – held last evening at Melbourne’s Atheneum Club – former Glen Cameron Group General Manager Bruce Forsyth, and long-time VTA Vice President and Ryans Group founder Dennis Ryan, were presented with the WFD Chalmers Award in front of some of the Association’s most senior members and associate members.

The dinner was sponsored by Volvo Group Australia and CMV Truck & Bus.

The WFD Chalmers Award was instituted by the VTA in memory of Daryl Chalmers, who was a member of the Executive Council for over 40 years.

It is presented annually to recognise individuals that have supported and worked within the Industry and the Association over many years, with dedication, loyalty, and commitment.

With the pandemic restricting the ability to host events for the past two years, last night’s presentation recognised the 2021 and 2022 Chalmers Award recipients, with Forsyth receiving the 2021 accolade and Ryan recognised for this year.

VTA CEO Peter Anderson congratulated Forsyth and Ryan on their respective decades of service to the industry and support to the VTA.

“Bruce and Dennis are among the most recognised and respected members of the transport industry and between the two of them have decades of experience building successful businesses and employing hundreds of people in worthwhile transport roles,” Anderson said.

“At the same time, they have shown a remarkable commitment to serving the interests of the VTA and its members, so it is befitting that they have been recognised with one of our Association’s highest honours.”

VTA President Mike Lean echoed Anderson’s remarks and extended his thanks and appreciation to Forsyth and Ryan for their decades of service.

Addressing his first President’s Dinner since taking on the role prior to the pandemic, Lean reflected on some of the issues and achievements of the Association over the three years of his presidency.

“It’s been my great privilege over the last three years to lead an active and dedicated Executive Council whose focus has been on the issues that matter most to our members,” Lean said.

“Training and education continue to be a major focus of the VTA, with the pandemic exposing the chronic labour shortages that has been rife in the sector for years. We continue to lead the charge for higher standards because in the 21st century mandatory training must be a requirement for entry into our profession,” he said.

Lean said he recognised the faster shift to lower greenhouse emissions under the new federal Labor Government, attention was rapidly turning to decarbonising the transport industry.

“We as operators are up for the fight to drive decarbonisation in our industry, but the reality is that we need very clear direction to be provided by governments at all levels around the transition,” he said.

VTA advocacy on this matter over the transitional period will be for incentives to decarbonise, as distinct from penalties.

Lean said that the Association has worked constructively through its affiliations with ARTIO to achieve minimum road freight industry standards, which is consistent with the structural change needed for a viable, safe, and sustainable industry.

“We understand the new Federal Government’s emerging thinking on the topic but once again, this is just not a purely Industrial Relations issue,” he said.

“Minimum standards must include every activity.

“Transport operators have for years been regarded as just price takers – we are beyond that now, with the shortages in the industry, customers are starting to value our industry for what it achieves.”

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