Rival bus group emerges

From the fall-out of the South Australian Government’s school bus tendering process, a new bus association has emerged

Rival bus group emerges
Rival bus group emerges

By David Goeldner | October 13, 2011

There’s a new man on the scene in South Australia following the creation of a second bus lobby group – the South Australian Bus Association (SA Bus) – with former conference organiser Lauran Huefner appointed as Executive Director.

Australian Transit Enterprises (ATE) and Warrnambool Bus Lines through McCormack’s Bus Lines’ Mt Gambier operation are behind the creation of the new association.

The association’s mandate is to represent all bus operators in South Australia and work alongside the state’s government to achieve positive outcomes for the industry.

"We have been created with the aim of representing our members effectively," Huefner says.

"There was a need for certain operators in South Australia to have representation, and they chose to establish an entity that can give them representation to government."

Huefner will waste no time getting to know the bus industry, having already participated at the recent Australian Bus and Coach Show at Rosehill in Sydney, and travelling to Fiji as a delegate at BIC’s annual national conference.

"It’s a good industry with plenty of opportunity," he says.

Incorporated in mid-September, SA Bus has appointed a provisional board which will be ratified before the end of the year.

The new association will also be a member of the Federally-based Bus Industry Confederation (BIC).

Heufner says he has started discussing national issues with BIC’s Executive Director Michael Apps, and will work with BIC to trickle-down national policy positions to South Australia.

And while SA Bus is yet to embark on a membership drive, the association will accept applications from any accredited bus operator in South Australia.

"Anybody who is accredited to operate a passenger transport bus in South Australia we see as a prospective member," Huefner says.

SA Bus will seek to provide members with a broad range of services akin to larger state-based associations such as BusNSW and BusVic, with an element of ‘operator welfare’ attached to each of its programs.

"I want to set up services and support for members that help them with their welfare and their operation," Huefner says.

"It’s very clear that bus industry representation has to be more than member-based, it has to be looking at broader services and a broader function."

Huefner says the welfare of business people is a personal interest which he will bring to the association.

"I will be concerned for my members and their plight but I will also be honest with them," he says.

"I am not a business doctor, and I don’t intend being one."

Huefner plans to work closely with the South Australian Government, advocating policies in the best interests of operators, and will set to work in coming months to prepare position papers leading up to the next state election.

"I want to take policy positions with government that will expand the use of buses in South Australia," he says.

"I very much want to get the government to look at other models of how the bus industry can be useful."

Huefner declined to comment on the vexed question of why there are now two bus industry associations in South Australia, competing directly with the long-established Bus and Coach Association of South Australia (BCASA).

"We want to provide effective representation and I can’t make a call on what’s gone on before," he says.

"I am starting from a clean slate."

Huefner sees current dialogue pertaining to disenchantment with contract outcomes in South Australia as ‘noise in the space’.

"What I know is that there are organisations who want representation and who aren’t getting representation," he says.

"But I am quite neutral in my position on that."

Heufner has reserved a domain name for the Association’s website scheduled to appear by November at www.sabus.asn.au.

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