BIC goes to Fiji

The big picture approach to the BIC National Conference, held in Sydney this week, will have run its course by 2011 as delegates look towards structuring the bus and coach industry into the next decade

BIC goes to Fiji
BIC goes to Fiji

By David Goeldner | October 29, 2010

From NSW Transport Minister John Robertson’s opening address, to the dynamic duo of base jumpers Glenn Singleman and Heather Swan at the close, this year’s Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) National Conference wrapped up the week on a high note, enticing delegates to head across to Fiji for 2011.

BIC Executive Director Michael Apps, pictured above, says the Fiji program will be an introspective affair.

He sees the timing and the location of next year’s conference as the best way to see the industry working into the future with the right structure and setting a solid platform for the next decade, departing from this week’s ‘big picture’ public policy focus.

Earlier this week in Sydney, the BIC 2010 conference themed ‘Moving People – Solutions for a Growing Australia’ reflected the position BIC and the industry had arrived at in terms of making its presence felt with Federal Government.

"Eight years ago we set a decade for the industry to set itself up, running and recognised in Canberra," says Apps.

"Over the last two years in Canberra we’ve seen some light at the end of the tunnel."

Apps says BIC’s success was reflected in the interest taken by Federal Treasury and the Department of Infrastructure in relation to the bus industry’s public transport proposals.

"The Federal Government is starting to recognise that it does have a role in moving people," he says.

Apps referred to the recent Energy Efficiency Report released earlier this month by Environment Minister Greg Combet which has a section on public transport with a focus on reducing the number of trips by cars.

"I think we are on the chart in the context of changing the policy agenda over the last few years – eight years ago we were just starting to talk about these issues."

He says increasing population, climate change and the emerging power of the Australian Greens with their dominant presence in the Senate, are each factors influencing the bus industry’s policy agenda.

"We now have some runs on the board in the context of policy direction and it’s the work of a lot of people," says Apps, who acknowledged the efforts of Stephen Lucas and Professor John Stanley as key policy drivers.

"Importantly we are on the board but it’s still just the start."

Apps says this week’s conference underscored an agenda that provides assurance of the long term viability, profitability and growth of the industry in the context of growing the public transport pie.

"And that’s what BIC and the state associations are focussed on, delivering an outcome that makes for bigger and better businesses," he says.

Apps admits that some of this year’s presentations may not have held everyone’s immediate interest.

This year’s program dealt with several ‘big picture’ themes related to public policy, including Federal and State-based infrastructure funding models, ITLS studies on public perception of transport modes, and Australia’s position in the world economy as presented by NAB’s Alan Oster and ADC Forum’s Michael Roux – both speculating on the rise of China.

Apps says these presentations to bus industry delegates would prove invaluable.

"It’s very high level policy stuff, sometimes a bit dry and it might not get into the nitty gritty of day to day business, but I don’t apologise for that because we need to have the debate – to drive the policy platform of the nation," says Apps.

BIC Chairman Scott Grenda concurred with Apps views on the 2010 conference, but added that 2011 would see a departure from this theme in Fiji.

"The 2011 conference will focus on our industry, not on policy, and how we best structure ourselves for success," says Grenda.

Already tagged by at least one keen delegate as F – One – J – One, the Fiji event will be the tenth BIC conference, scheduled for the week of 24 October 2011, with the hotel venue and airline discounts already secured for registering delegates.

Next year’s BIC conference will be themed ‘Moving People for the Next Decade’.

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