By: Catherine Fitzpatrick, Photography by: courtesy TasBus + misc.

EVENT: After last year’s TasBus Conference was cancelled, it was great to see Tassie’s bus community come together again in style for the 2021 event, held 28-29 May, at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Hobart.

With another successful TasBus conference wrapped up, there are high hopes for 2022," TasBus general manager Geoff Lewis said.

Given the tumultuous show preparations nationwide this year with the pandemic’s seemingly ‘on again, off again’ switch being thrown for all the lockdowns and or restrictions, there was much hope TasBus would be an ‘uninterrupted event’.

And it was, in its own right – but Covid lockdown in Melbourne at the time did have an impact on many interstaters’ travel plans to attend the show. With that stated, it was a pretty good turnout and event overall put on by the amazing Tasmanian bus and coach fraternity, with a total of 90 attendees during the day and 117 for the conference dinner.

"The Tasmanian bus conference provided an opportunity for operators and suppliers to gather together after the cancellation of the 2020 conference," TasBus general manager Geoff Lewis said to ABC magazine.

"Unfortunately, due to Melbourne lockdown occurring two days before the conference, quite a few suppliers from Victoria were unable to attend.

"However, highlights of the conference were the excellent presentations by all presenters and the presence of all three Tasmanian political parties in addressing the conference delegates. Shane Dewsbery was also recognised for his outstanding contribution to the industry in recognition of his 20 years as a director of TasBus and his time as president."



Following a welcome function held on the Friday night, the official opening of the 2021 annual conference kicked off with a greeting from TasBus general manager Geoff Lewis.

This was followed by an official welcome by the Hon Michael Ferguson MP, Premier of Tasmania and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, complemented by addresses from across the political spectrum by Anita Dow MP, Acting Leader of Tasmanian Labor and Cassy O’Connor MP, Leader of the Tasmanian Greens.

The rest of the morning presentations covered the topics of future engine power technology in Tasmania, presented by Jamie Atkinson, Scania’s national sales and contracts manager for Vic, Tas, SA and WA; recent changes to the Fair Work Amendment Act 2021, presented by Ian McDonald, national industrial relations manager at the Australian Public Transport Industrial Association; how to perform a health check of your business, by Dixie Emmerton, managing director of the Centre for Australian Industry; and the necessary requirements for buying or selling a business and planning for succession by Maria Capati a commercial lawyer with Piper Alderman.


After lunch, the afternoon session was kicked off with a presentation on the future of tourism post-Covid-19 by Rob Pennicott, the owner of tour operator Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. This was followed by a national update from the Bus Industry Confederation by BIC chairman Wayne Patch, who outlined BIC’s current working papers as well as its findings from a review into the organisation’s role as an industry representative, followed by a moving tribute to BIC director Michael Apps, who passed away at the end of 2020.

With the conference wrapped up by TasBus president Shane Dewsbery it was time for a quick cuppa before the annual general meeting. Finally, with the work part over, it was time to let loose with a conference dinner in the hotel’s ballroom, with the star attractions being the presentation of industry awards and a charity raffle and auction to raise money for Guide Dogs Tasmania (https://guidedogstas.com.au/).




Award winners were: Grant Hickey for the Achievement Award; Ben Were of B Were Electrics for Supplier of the Year; and Metro Tasmania for the Environment and Innovation Award.

The silent auction for Guide Dogs Tasmania had attendees bidding on everything from model vehicles and TVs to drones, tyres and watches, with the final amount raised coming to an amazing AUD$16,927.

"The money raised [goes] to the Guide Dog Association for their Autism Assistance Dogs program to help children with autism be able to better assimilate into their families and their community," said Lewis to local newspaper the Hobart Observer as to how the funds raised will be used.

"The dogs promote confidence, independence and inclusion, and [the program is] enabling children to have a dog of their own so they have the confidence to go out and have a safety net," added Guide Dogs Tasmania program manager Kim Ryan.

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With another successful TasBus conference wrapped up, there are high hopes for 2022, said Lewis.

"Next year’s conference will be held at Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June and we look forward having all those who were unable to attend this year with us," he said.

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