Address to the Bus Industry Confederation National Conference

**Check against delivery**

Good afternoon and thank you Tony for your kind introduction.

I begin by echoing those before me in acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands we are meeting on.

My respect and thanks are extended to Elders, past and present, and to all First Nations people joining us this morning.

Thank you to the Bus Industry Confederation for the invitation to address you at this National Conference.

Thank you to the hundreds of delegates from across the bus and coach industry; manufacturers, service providers and government representatives, for coming together for innovation and discussion that drives this essential sector forward.

This is my second year being at the Bus Industry Confederation Conference and what a year it has been between the two.

It truly is a pleasure to be here today and to be part of these discussions.

As Minister King alluded to in her message, this has been a big year for the industry.

A year where we continue to explore opportunities and we continue to work toward our goals of decarbonisation and road safety.

These are the two overarching goals that drive this industry. Goals the industry and the Government share wholeheartedly.

These are our shared goals of reducing fatalities and serious injuries on our roads, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions – both by 2050.

I’ll touch on the Australian Government initiatives that are working towards these goals a bit later.

But firstly, no goal shall be achieved if we fail to equip our workforce with the skilled drivers and employees required to put our motions in action.

In March I spoke at the Bus Industry Summit in Canberra and raised the need to plan for the future through job pathways and skills development.

I spoke about how the key to this is having government, industry and the VET sector working together.

At the Jobs and Skills Summit, over 140 Australians did just that. We came together to address shared economic challenges.

And from here, we have now seen the release of the Government’s Employment White Paper, released in late September.

This provides an invaluable roadmap for Australia to build a bigger, better-trained and more productive workforce - boosting income and living standards for workers and ultimately, creating more opportunities for more Australians.

The White Paper is underpinned by rigorous data and evidence, relevant international comparisons and stakeholder submissions and engagement.

I sincerely thank those of you who have taken the time to contribute to the shaping of this important paper.

In addition to this, ten Jobs and Skills Councils have been formally established – including Industry Skills Australia.

The Industry Skills Australia Council includes the aviation, rail, maritime, transport and logistics sector, which of course includes the bus and heavy vehicle workforce. 

This specific council is well placed to work with industry, unions, states and territories to ensure nationally recognised training for the sector and to make sure learner and employer needs are met, up-to-date and relevant.

I would encourage all of you to interact with the Industry Skills Australia to express the experiences you are having on the ground.

Around 1200 people lose their lives each year on Australian roads, in the last twelve months 1240 people have been killed. That is our starting point when it comes to road safety – that number is far, far too high.

Since speaking with you last, I’ve hosted a Ministerial Roundtable on Bus Safety.

Minister Catherine King asked me to arranged this as a result of the tragic bus crash in the Hunter Valley and many expert representatives from the Bus Industry Confederation, major bus companies and manufacturers, unions and safety experts joined me.  

I’d particularly like to thank Tony and Dean from the Bus Industry Confederation for the insights they provided at the roundtable.

The prioritisation of safety is a commonality shared across government and industry.

We discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the industry, covering topics such as seatbelts, future design rules, vehicle roll-over warning systems and future education campaigns.

We also discussed ways that the Australian Design Rules process could be better streamlined to more readily adopt and bring to market new technologies and standards in Australia.

I understand BIC is meeting with my department and states and territories in November to further those discussions.

I would like to thank members of the industry for their engagement and I look forward to ongoing constructive discussions on these points.

In September I brought the learnings from the Bus Safety Roundtable to a meeting of Road Safety Ministers.

This is the second time I have hosted a Road Safety Ministers’ Meeting, which provided all states and territories the opportunity to share their experiences, discuss trends in road user behaviour and consider ways to collectively improve road safety.

Earlier this month the NSW government released a report with five recommendations about improving bus safety that are set to be implemented.

This report is an invaluable step in mitigating future heartbreaks for drivers, pedestrians, passengers and their loved ones.   

I fully support the NSW government in their steps towards creating a safer environment for all involved and encourage other States and Territories to consider adopting the recommendations.

As mentioned, I would like to talk about some movement happening in the world of Australian Design Rules.

In early August I instructed the Department to undertake an internal review into the Australian Design Rule process – both in consultation and in implementation phases.

From this review, the Department provided me with a range of pathways forward. I have instructed the Department to progress on three of the recommendations immediately.

1.     Shortening the implementation timeline for light vehicles only – I repeat light vehicles only – from 2 years for new models to one year, and from 4 years for existing models to 2 years. The implementation timeframes for all other vehicles will remain the same.

2.     Implementing a strict closing date on ADR consultation and;

3.     Creating stricter guidelines and prioritisation processes to ensure the Department is able to work through submissions in a timely and effective manner.

You will hear more about this work in coming months.

The Australian Governments, other overarching goal for the transport sector is achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The transport sector is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia.

And without intervention, this sector is projected to become Australia’s largest source of emissions by 2030.

Transitioning from diesel buses to electric buses is an important part of meeting our commitments and as I’ve said previously, we are aware and proud of the numerous companies, operators and local Governments that have made the switch, or are in the process of this.

The passenger transport industry is truly leading the way for the rest of the transport industry.

During my first address to you in November last year, I explained our 250-million-dollar commitment to an electric bus manufacturing facility and bus depot in Perth, co-funded with the Western Australian Government.  

Already, this initiative has saved on over 230 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

We are currently producing a Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan to outline our future steps for decarbonisation.

This is just one of the Government’s six sectoral plans for decarbonisation in development.

It is expected a draft roadmap will be released later this year for engagement and consultation.

I encourage your involvement to help shape the way forward as we work towards our net zero commitments.

In closing, as we navigate the road ahead for the bus industry, let our collective commitment to tackling driver shortages, enhancing road safety and embracing decarbonisation be the driving force.

Thank you for your time and engagement.

Enjoy the conference and I’ll see you at dinner tonight.