Message from the Executive Director
One of the highlights of the National Industry Summit was the Women in the Bus Industry Panel at the end of day one. The panel, which included Rachel Spencer from Transdev John Holland, Sarah Forbes from Volvo Buses APAC, Leanne Griffith from Red Bus Services and Katrina McLachlan a bus driver for Action Buses, canvassed a broad range of issues. The recruitment, retention, and promotion of women in the industry was a key issue but the conversation quickly became more inclusive as panelist spoke about the importance of diversity not only in gender but also across generations. This was in recognition that as an industry we are dominated by males and are failing to attract young people into the
industry. When we are able to attract women and younger people (regardless of gender) they often do not stay. This in part relates to the image of the industry and company culture but also often to the lack of easily identifiable career paths, leadership development and mentoring.
All the panelists, and many of the delegates who joined in the conversation, agreed that mentoring is vital. As BIC and our industrial relations arm, APTIA, continue to identify ways to support the industry address workforce issues, a national mentoring program may soon be on the cards. This work will complement the work being led by APTIA on addressing the drivers shortage, an issue that was canvassed in detail on day two of the Summit. It may also help stem the drift of our skilled trades and technical staff to large construction and mining
The industrial relations session on day two of the Summit considered ways to improve the image of the industry. This is something we need to work on together if we are to become an industry of choice for employees rather than a workplace of last resort.
Executive Director, Bus Industry Confederation
Policy, Advocacy and Technical Updates
Summit Address by Hon. Carol Brown on Workforce and Skills Shortage in the Bus Industry and Government Plans for a Zero-Emissions Future
The Hon. Carol Brown, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, delivered an address at the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) Summit discussing the industry’s workforce and skills shortage, government plans to address these challenges, and progress made towards achieving a zero-emissions future. Senator Brown highlighted The National Skills Commission prediction of a 8.3% growth in demand for bus and coach drivers through to 2026, highlighting the
need for attracting more young people and women into the heavy vehicle industry and retain the drivers we already have.
The Senator highlighted that the government has implemented a twelve-month Skills Agreement between federal, state, and territory governments and announced 480,000 fee-free TAFE and community-based vocational education places to address workforce shortages. Additionally, she informed delegates that the government is also pursuing a National Electric Vehicle Strategy and exploring the role biofuels and hydrogen can play in decarbonising the transport sector. Further the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts is consulting on two new Australian Design Rules to regulate safety requirements for electric and hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles, including buses.
The Senator has indicated that she is keen to support the BIC in our endeavors to increase the number of females in the industry. We thank the Senator for her ongoing support.
Cost Price Squeeze
Hyperinflation, with the 2022 Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 6.2% compared to a 20-year average of 2.7%, the Producer Price Indexes for motor vehicle and motor vehicle manufacturing in Q4 2022 at an all-time high and still increasing, wages increasing at the fastest rate since 2012, capped price contracts, skill shortages, supply chain uncertainty and ongoing challenges with sea freight are having a significant impact on bus and coach manufacturers and suppliers.
BIC members have had several opportunities recently to discuss
the emerging crisis in the industry where some suppliers run the very real risk of running at a loss or are already occurring significant losses despite having full order books. This includes the Suppliers group meeting on February 14 and the manufacturers panel at the National Industry Summit. These sessions considered the causes of the crisis and identified potential solutions.
BIC have responded to the concerns and solutions raised by launching an advocacy campaign. The first part of the campaign has been to meet with Senator Tim Ayres, the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing, in the Albanese Government. The meeting on 20 March is just the first of meetings planned with the Australian Government to canvass the diverse range of issues and solutions. Meetings with the state governments are also in
Delegates at the Summit from across the industry agreed that this is an issue that requires “many voices, one message” and that when the opportunity arose all members should raise this issue with their local members and relevant ministers. The BIC are finalizing a position paper that will be released shortly to assist this industry wide advocacy.
BIC’s New Technical Manager – Dean Moule
We are thrilled to announce that Dean Moule will be joining the BIC team in April as our National Technical Manager. Based in Melbourne, initially a qualified Auto Electrician and most recently obtaining a double Diploma in Business Management and Leadership, Dean has 36 years’ experience in the Automotive Industry specialising in buses with
manufacturing, service, engineering and product development. Dean, until recently was the Director of Product and Electromobility at Volvo Buses and played a key role in the launch of the BZL Electric City Bus. His proficiency in negotiation, operations management, customer service, engineering, and strategic planning, make him a valuable addition to our team. Dean is a graduate of AIM Education & Training, where he earned his Diploma of Management and Leadership.
We are delighted to have Dean on board and are confident that his skills and experience will help us achieve our goals and drive innovation in the industry. Please join us in welcoming Dean to the BIC!
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) Implements Changes to Flash Rate on School Buses
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has made changes to the flash rate on school buses, clarifying that the flash rate for school bus lights should be applied per pair of lights rather than per light. These changes will take effect from the end of the month with a 12-month transition period. As of March 31st, 2024, all new buses used as school buses fitted with flashing lights must have a flash rate of between 90 and 180 times/minute per pair of lights. Buses manufactured before this time may
have a flash rate of 90 and 180 times/minute either per light or per pair of lights. The NHVR advises that their preference is for this to be per pair. Members of the Bus Industry Confederation are advised to ensure that their school buses comply with these new regulations. but members should note that the state based regulations (where school lights are required) have always been rates per pair of lights, so this is not a significant change in regulations.
Trapeze Group Competition – The Official Hydration Sponsor of the Bus Industry Summit 2023
Important Updates on Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV) and RVSA Transitional Period
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts has released their first RVS (Road Vehicle Standards) newsletter of 2023, which includes updates on the Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV). The RAV has over 1.4 million vehicle entries and the department is seeking feedback on experiences using the system. As the transitional period for the Road Vehicle Standards legislation ends on 30 June 2023, automotive workshops and trailer manufacturers and importers are
encouraged to make the transition to RVS now. From 1 July 2023, all road vehicles must be entered on the RAV before they can be provided.
The newsletter also provides information on the revocation of more than 25 concessional RAV entry approvals due to non-compliance and the proposed new rules prescribing safety requirements for electric and hydrogen-fuelled cell vehicles. A new guidance note on amending RAV entries is available on the department’s website. The newsletter also highlights important cut-off dates for the RVSA transitional period.
Queensland Government Doubles Zero Emission Bus Fleet and Plans for a Greener Transport Future
Queensland’s bus network is on track to double the number of zero-emission buses in the coming months, with 40 new battery electric buses launching in Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Redland Bay, and the Sunshine Coast throughout 2023.
The Palaszczuk Government has committed to ensuring that every new government-funded urban bus added to the South East Queensland fleet will be zero-emissions from 2025, with a similar target for the regions between 2025 and
2030. The Zero Emission Bus Program is designed to reduce emissions from the South East Queensland diesel bus fleet by 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2035.
Engagement with industry has been crucial in developing Queensland’s bus manufacturing policy to support the transition to a greener transport future. BIC’s advocacy work in promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly public transport has played a significant role in this space, with the Queensland Government’s move likely to have broader national impacts.
Should Public Transport be Free for Everyone? Expert Weighs in on the Debate
A recent article from UNSW Sydney explores the question of whether public transport should be free for all passengers. Luxembourg was the first country to implement free public transport in 2020, with Germany considering a similar policy after a successful trial of reduced fares. Cities like Melbourne already offer free tram journeys within certain zones. Dr. Mike Harris, a lecturer in urban design and landscape architecture at UNSW, believes that eliminating fares can entice more people to switch to more
eco-friendly modes of mass transit, while also helping those struggling with the rising cost of living.
However, Dr. Harris also notes that there is no such thing as a truly “free” public transport system, as it must be funded from somewhere. He suggests that public transport can be considered a universal basic service for mobility, funded by public subsidies rather than collecting funds from passengers. This approach could benefit low-income earners.
While eliminating fares is an important step, Dr. Harris also emphasizes the importance of improving the quality of services, such as frequency and reliability, to entice more people away from cars. He also notes the need to cater to a broader range of needs and users, including allowing pets on public transport. As the Bus Industry
Confederation (BIC) advocates for improved public transport services, this article provides valuable insight into the potential benefits and challenges of implementing fare-free policies.
Bus Industry Summit 2023: RACAP
We are thrilled to announce that the Bus Industry Summit 2023 was a tremendous success! Over 200 members of the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) and state bus associations, government representatives, and industry stakeholders gathered on March 21st and 22nd at the Hotel Realm in Canberra for this unique networking, information sharing and problem-solving opportunity.
Attendees had access to a fantastic lineup of speakers and panelists, who provided valuable insights into a range of topics affecting the industry. Including insights from John Anasis of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Rahlia David from Centre For Connected And Automated Transport (CCAT) about funding for the EV transition and the latest in the transition to autonomous transport.
The technical sessions on day two featured two panels, one canvassing the issues facing bus and coach manufacturers and suppliers. The other on the transition to zero from a power and infrastructure perspective., Both panels offered insights into the future of the bus and coach industry.
The Manufacturers Panel Discussion, facilitated by BIC Councilor Michael Baulch, featured representatives from some of the leading manufacturers in the industry. Yuri Tessari of Volgren, Julian Gurney of Scania, David Evans of ARCC, Allan Lowes of QTK Group/Thermoking, Luke Edwards of VDI/Yutong, Crinel Geaboc of MAN Truck and Busses, and Anthony O’Donnell of Coachair all spoke about their companies’ work and priorities and efforts to address the current challenges facing the sector, with the war on talent, hyper-inflation and supply
chain uncertainty being just a few of many.
Many of the panelists emphasized the need for collaboration between manufacturers, operators, and governments to address these challenges and ensure the sustainability of the industry.
The concurrent Industrial relations session, titled “How will multiple industry bargaining impact on the bus and coach industry,” was facilitated by Ian MacDonald, National Industrial Relations Manager at APTIA. The panel featured representatives from Keolis Downer, CDC, Murrays Coaches, and Kinetic.
The panelists discussed the potential benefits and challenges of multiple industry bargaining, which can improve wages and working conditions for employees but also create complexities and administrative
burdens for employers. They also discussed the importance of ensuring that any bargaining agreements consider the unique needs and challenges of the bus and coach industry.
The Manufacturers Panel Discussion and the panel on industry bargaining both provided valuable insights into the future of the industry and the steps needed to ensure its sustainability and success.
Thank you to our generous sponsors who helped make the Bus Industry Summit 2023 a success. We extend a special thank you to Bus and Coach International (BCI), who kept attendees fueled with fresh coffee throughout the event with their reusable coffee cups, and to Trapeze Group, our Hydration Sponsor, whose water bottles ensured that attendees stayed hydrated throughout the event. The success of Trapeze’s water bottles was
evident as attendees continued to use them long after the summit ended, making them a lasting memento of the event. Our Lanyard sponsor, Optibus, provided stylish and practical lanyards that served as a reminder of the summit even after it concluded. We also thank our Media Partner, ABC Australasian Bus and Coach, for their help in promoting the summit and its valuable content. We are truly grateful to all our sponsors for their support of the Bus Industry Summit 2023.
The success of the Bus Industry Summit 2023 was due to the active participation and engagement of all attendees. We are grateful for the support of our members, government representatives, and industry stakeholders. We look forward to seeing you at the next Bus Industry Summit and the BIC National Conference later this year!
2023 National Conference & 2024 Bus and Coach Expo
The plight of supplier members has been on our radar, with an advocacy campaign underway to ensure that Australian governments understand the extreme pressure that suppliers are facing. Nobody would’ve anticipated a situation where suppliers have full order books but can’t make ends meet. We need governments to respond with changes in contract terms and effective and timely rise and fall variations.
This situation facing suppliers played heavily into the Council’s decision to bring the 2023 National Conference back on shore. Originally planned for Rotorua in New Zealand, the Council has decided to hold this year’s conference in Australia. The Conference is set for Monday, 30 October 2000 – Wednesday, 01 November 2023.
Recently, the supplier’s group has made their concerns known to the Council about the 2024 Bus and Coach Expo being hosted by a state bus association that isn’t a member of the BIC. Drawing upon the various representations and the outcomes of an industry survey, the Council has decided that BIC will host a national Bus and Coach Show on September 17-18, 2024 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. We will shortly be releasing Expressions of Interest for exhibitors, presenters and sponsors and look forward to hosting this showcase event while adding extras that members asked for in the survey.
Welcoming our New Members
We are proud to welcome CoachHire as one of our new members. CoachHire is one of Australia’s leading coach hire broker companies with an outstanding reputation for offering friendly professional services at competitive rates. Through years of experience, they have come to understand that the most important points for their clients are cleanliness, punctuality, competitive rates, and friendly professional service. In the last 12 months, CoachHire have provided transport to over 344,000 people, who travelled nearly 1.5 million kilometers. They offer a range of modern vehicles from 13-seat minibusses up to 70-seat coaches with
standard, executive, and VIP classes available. Much more than just coach hire we offer professional transport management services making tours, large events, and contract work easy.
We are excited to welcome IMPULSE Wireless as one of our new members. IMPULSE Wireless specialises in Push-to-talk two-way communications using mobile networks. They are a highly experienced Australian provider, and provide a more engineered capability and tailored approach to meet the unique needs of each bus and coach operator.
A simple “radio-like” device with a large screen replaces two-way radio and GPS tracking, and provides greater coverage, superior voice quality, and far greater capabilities.
Even more advantages are gained by integrating business applications and functions
such as schedule and route management, KPI tracking, and operational intelligence from our solution partners or other third parties, all on the one device. Bus companies doing this with IMPULSE Wireless are improving safety, visibility, reporting and performance, while reducing overall costs.IMPULSE Wireless PTT is available on purpose-built in-vehicle or handheld devices, as well as on Android or iOS smartphones and tablets.
Join us in welcoming IMPULSE Wireless to the BIC.
Airbags Australia Pty Ltd Announces Retirement from the Industry
It is with sadness that we learnt that Airbags Australia have decided to leave the industry. Airbags Australia Pty Ltd has been a long-standing member of BIC and has sponsored the BIC conferences for over a decade. Their decision to retire is a result of the negative impact of Covid-19 on their business operations.
As another local 100% Australian made manufacturer closes its doors, BIC acknowledges the challenges faced by the bus industry due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. BIC continues its advocacy work to support the industry and its members during this difficult time. We would like to thank Marika Holownia, General Manager and the entire team at Airbags Australia Pty Ltd for their ongoing support and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.
Trapeze Group Competition – The official Hydration Sponsor of the Bus Industry Summit 2023
Important Announcement from the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) Regarding Transfer of Functions to the Fair Work Commission (FWC)
The Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) has announced that its functions will be transferred back to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on March 6th, 2023, after almost 6 years of operation.
The ROC has been successful in encouraging registered organisations to act in the best interests of their members and comply with their obligations under the Fair Work (Registered Organisation) Act 2009 (RO Act). The ROC has developed an extensive digital education library with over 400 resources on compliance topics, resulting in increased compliance rates across registered organisations. The ROC has also consistently promoted financial reporting requirements, managed an auditor registration scheme, finalised 24 referrals from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, and
conducted several seminal cases in the Federal Court to deter contravening behaviour by organisations.
The ROC has managed the introduction of an expanded whistle-blower scheme and focused on developing a “speak-up” culture in organisations. The ROC’s General Manager is proud to see a new objective added to the new legislation, requiring the FWC to embed good governance and compliance culture within organisations.
From March 6th, 2023, the ROC will be abolished, and all compliance requirements and deadlines will be transferred to the FWC. Organizations will continue to lodge required documents and information until March 3rd, 2023, with the ROC, but from March 6th, 2023, will need to lodge with the FWC.
Organisations with queries
or concerns about the transfer can call the FWC on 1300 341 665.
The March edition of ‘Everybody Out’ features updates on recent events and decisions impacting the industry. The IR breakfast held in Brisbane, hosted by Piper Alderman solicitors, and the BIC National Industry Summit in Canberra were highly successful. The upcoming IWG meeting on 19 April 2023 will focus on the proposed recruitment and retention campaign and the issue of multiple agreements.
The newsletter also highlights recent decisions affecting businesses. The CFMMEU case raised concerns about requiring employees to work on public holidays. The second issue discussed is determining whether a Trade Union can delay a vote if an employer is seeking to put an agreement to the vote.
To view the full March edition of Everybody’s Out