Australia, Bus Industry News

NSW Nationals warn of potential bus manufacturer closure

The state’s Nationals party is calling on the NSW government to release the Panel 4 list before some coach builders may be forced to permanently close

The NSW Nationals party has warned that a mid-north coast bus manufacturer may be forced to close, costing almost 50 jobs.

NSW Nationals shadow regional roads and transport minister Sam Farraway says Express Coach Builders now faces closing its doors for good after manufacturing school buses for 28 years.

The Nationals say it’s due to Transport for NSW’s (TfNSW) inaction on the Bus Procurement Panel 4, which was expected to be released last year after tenders closed in early April.

Now, almost a year on, the party says the list hasn’t been released, leaving local bus manufacturers with no orders in the pipeline.

Express director Mark Forster says he’s disappointed that the business may have to close after 28 years of service to the community and providing opportunities to more than 100 apprentices and trainees.

“It’s terribly sad to put your heart and soul into something you love for it to be potentially taken away because the government and their agencies can’t sort out a procurement process,” Forster says.

“Both ministers have the power to intervene and get the Panel 4 list out or at least offer relief to manufacturers to stay afloat.

“I had to lay off staff just before Christmas. No employer wants to do that. I don’t want to start the new year with more, so I’m pleading with the government to step up and fix it.”

Farraway says he’s demanding answers from NSW transport minister Jo Haylen and NSW regional roads and transport minister Jenny Aitchison.

“Express Coach Builders faces closing its doors because of government inaction, despite an estimated 97 school buses in need of replacement across regional NSW,” Farraway says.

Nationals member for Oxley Michael Kemp says it’s a “slap in the face”, with Express being the second largest private employer in Macksville, which is a region that already has higher-than-average unemployment rates.

“If they shut down and take away our jobs, it’ll absolutely kill our region,” Kemp says.

“I met minister Haylen last year and she assured me personally that Express and other manufacturers would have the Panel Four list before Christmas, with regional builds on that list.

“Now, we’re facing major job losses, with outdated school buses still on the road amid post-flood damage and cuts to road funding.”

Kemp has extended an invitation to both ministers and the state premier to come and meet Express to give the business confirmation that new orders are in the pipeline.

Send this to a friend