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AustraliaLogisticsNewsTrucking

DOWN UNDER TRUCKING: transport jobs boom underway in Australia

Free trade deals are driving demand for logistics staff in Australia, says recruiter Hays. Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Government is handing out cash to boost trucking, cargo and road safety. Trucking fuel is much in the news with a new bio-diesel plant opening but industry groups are calling for a better uptake of electric vehicles. Australia’s famed trucking museum may now be in jeopardy.

Transport staff in high demand in Australia

About 57 percent of logistics employers intend to increase their permanent headcount in the coming Australian financial year, labor-hire recruiter and supplier Hays has found in its new survey.

Multi-skilled candidates in transport, warehousing and supply chain will be in high demand.

Transport allocators are in “full demand” in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. There is also a need for transport supervisors and managers to lead operations, Hays says.

Heavy vehicle laws have created demand for supervisors with Chain of Responsibility qualifications too.

Casual drivers with a Maritime Security Identity Card are needed, as are drivers who are open to doing other tasks such as labouring.

Freight forwarders are in demand… but only if they are experienced. Hays says that the Trans-Pacific Partnership has increased demand for import/export staff who understand sea freight and especially those who can speak Mandarin. Relocation of manufacturing overseas has also driven demand for staff with international shipping experience.

In the warehouse, supervisors and managers are needed, especially if they are willing to manage small teams. Diploma- and degree-qualified candidates with experience in lean principles are also sought.

Third-party logistics employers are looking for warehouse managers, logistics coordinators, analysts, pallet controllers and dispatch coordinators.

Senior managers with change management experience, from both a people and a process perspective are also reported to be in high demand.

Pay rises are on the way too for logistics staff, but, Hays cautions, “it will be a less significant increase than they [logistics professionals] hoped for.”

“We found that 92 percent of employers will increase their transport and distribution staff salaries in their next review, up from 83 percent who did so in their last review. However, the value of these increases will fall. Seventy-one percent intend to raise salaries at the lower level of 3 percent or less, up from 63 percent who did so in their last review. At the other end of the scale, just 3 percent of employers intend to grant pay increases of more than 6 percent. The number of employers who will increase salaries at the mid-level, between 3 percent and 6 percent, has risen slightly, from 17 percent to 18 percent,” Hays says.

Worries over future of National Road Transport Hall of Fame

Australia’s much-loved trucking institution, the National Road Transport Hall of Fame, in the central part of the country may now be in jeopardy. Widespread media reports indicate that the government of the Northern Territory has appointed a government manager.

FreightWaves understands that the members of the management committee no longer hold office.

A$5.4 million for truck safety

Michael McCormack, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development , has announced that A$5.4 million will be given to several organisations to support truck driver mental health.

Canberra-based OzHelp Foundation will receive A$250,000 to develop and pilot a heavy vehicle industry health promotion and assistance program for owner-drivers.

Perth Based “Injury Matters” will receive funding to raise awareness of truck operators’ mental health and physical safety across the state of Western Australia. The aim is to help prevent crashes and to address the impact of road trauma on mental health. The Northern Territory’s Road Transport Association has been given A$36,700 to help truck drivers who are first responders to road accidents. Melbourne-based industry association, Container Transport Alliance Australia, has received funding to promote best practice in shipping container packing, cargo load restraint and weight distribution.

Also receiving funding in the coming financial year is a truck fire prevention strategy in Victoria; a women-in-trucking road safety campaign; a crane safety liaison officer; and the expansion of a national safety camera network.

Projects must be started in the current financial year and complete by June 30, 2020.

Crash “black spots” to be tackled

Seven road crash “black spots” will be fixed in the Northern Territory as A$1.48 million has been provided by the Federal Government.

“The Black Spot Program targets road locations where crashes are occurring, reducing the risk of crashes through funding safety measures such as traffic signals and roundabouts at dangerous locations,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack.

The federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics says that, on average, Black Spot projects reduce the number of crashes causing death and injury by 30 percent.

Upgrades include installing wide media refuges/traffic islands; replacing older style lighting with LED lights; relocating pedestrian crossings and upgrading turns; among other projects.

Biodiesel plant re-opens in Victoria

A new biodiesel plant, operated by “Just Biodiesel” has re-opened for business the Australian state of Victoria.

Greg Boyall, General Manager of Just Biodiesel, said, “A return of 11 former employees to the recommissioned facility is a testament to the leadership of the company and commitment of the locals who have successfully re-commissioned the plant in a four-month period. We are confident with the anticipated growth and support from many local suppliers, substantial economic benefits will be achieved for the region.”

Shahana McKenzie, CEO of industry association Bioenergy Australia welcomed the news.

“The revitalisation of the biodiesel plant at Barnawartha has created new employment opportunities in the region to support the potential production of 50 million litres of biodiesel per annum.“

According to Bioenergy Australia, biodiesel can be made from a variety of substances including recycled cooking oil and animal fats.

The lobby group says that biodiesel could create over 8,000 direct and indirect jobs and enhance local fuel security.

Think tank calls for greater uptake of electric vehicles

Canberra, Australia-based think tank the Australia Institute has called for a reduction on imported liquid fuel and a shift to locally generated power, more decentralisation in its energy system and a higher uptake of electric vehicles. It has also called for increased fuel efficiency standards on imported vehicles.

“This requires government policies with specific electric vehicle targets and fuel efficiency standards, and government incentives for low and zero emissions vehicles. By contrast, domestic supplies of oil and failing to change the vehicle fleet will both increase emissions and do little to improve energy security,” the Institute said.

The Institute noted that 90 percent of the liquid fuel consumed in Australia is derived from oil sourced from outside the country and that, in the last financial year, Australia had access to about 20 days of liquid fuel.

“But the emergency powers to ration fuel stocks take up to three weeks to be implemented… by the time the rationing powers come into force, there may not be any fuel left to ration… Australia is clearly not equipped to deal with a liquid fuel crisis,” the Institute said.

It argues that increasing domestic production is “dubious” particularly as the viability of production in prospective reservoirs may not be commercial.

“They may rely on significant subsidies, which would be better directed to other energy security measures,” the Institute said.

It also points out that social acceptance of oil and gas extraction in Australia is declining, especially for fracking, and that elderly Australian oil refineries are shutting down due to competition from new, more efficient, Asian refineries.

Australia’s Department of the Environment and Energy is currently carrying out a review into liquid fuel security.

Competition watchdog removes barriers to automotive retailer takeover

A merger between two of Australia’s largest automotive retailers is now more likely to go ahead after the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), has conditionally authorised the deal.

Previously, the ACCC had objected to the proposed takeover by AP Eagers (ASX: APE) of the Automotive Holdings Group (ASX: AHG) because the merged entity would have been very dominant, especially in the Newcastle-area of Australia. Newcastle is a small city a short distance north of Sydney.

Elsewhere in Australia, the ACCC did not object to the merger because the operations of AP Eagers and AHG did not substantially overlap and there are plenty of other dealers and suppliers. However, in the Newcastle area, the combined entity would own about 78 percent of the local dealerships.

“If we had allowed AP Eagers to combine its dealerships with AHG’s in this region, the reduction in competition in that market may have meant consumers would pay more for new cars,” the ACCC said in a statement.

However, APE said it was willing to give a court-enforceable undertaking to sell its existing new car dealerships in the region to an independent third party.

“AP Eagers’ divestiture means there will be no increase in market concentration in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region,” the ACCC said.

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Jim Wilson, Australia Correspondent

Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist, Jim Wilson, is the Australia Correspondent for FreightWaves. Since beginning his journalism career in 2000, Jim has primarily worked as a business reporter, editor, and manager for maritime publications in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. He has won several awards for logistics-related journalism and has had photography published in the global maritime press. Jim has also run publications focused on human resources management, workplace health and safety, venture capital, and law. He holds a degree in law and legal practice.

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