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CEO Monthly Message

Dr Brett Dale

December, 2017

In preparing this column, I’ve had to stop my mind racing forward and instead try to quietly reflect on the last month or so. There has been much to consider, including the many activities undertaken by the corporate office in preparing the Golf Day, the President’s Annual Ball, the Annual General Meeting and the opening of the MTAiQ innovation hub. The activities attached to each to ensure success are in addition to the regular corporate office duties and responsibilities. For this, a special thank you is to each of the MTA Queensland team. I refer members to the sentiments expressed in my Board report: “All of the MTA Queensland team are dedicated to delivering an outstanding service and experience to members and students - and they do it brilliantly.”  

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a core responsibility under the Association’s constitution. The 2017 Annual Report details the activities of the past year including the statements from Chairman David Fraser, Secretary Paul Petersen, the Executive staff, the Divisional Chairs, the MTA Institute General Manager Paul Kulpa and the financial report. It is on the website and I encourage members to peruse it as it a record of a year of achievement.

MTAiQ Opening

Coinciding with the AGM was the opening of the MTAiQ innovation hub by Chairman David Fraser. MTAiQ, combined with the two Carmageddon symposiums, delivers a prime objective of the MTA Queensland Strategic Plan 2016-18 - to ‘promote and lead creativity and innovation’. It was one of the key performance indicators for my employment as the Association’s group chief executive.

MTAiQ is in specially designed space IN the lower level of the Sir Jack Brabham Automotive Centre of Excellence facility. Its purpose is to cultivate a community of entrepreneurial minds that can come together, collaborate and develop ideas into commercial outcomes. It will bring together mentors, investors, coaches, commercial partners, and industry experts to collaborate on digital disruption and emerging technologies. It will assist existing and start-up automotive businesses to develop business models to capitalise on opportunities linked to new technology. It is the first in the state and the nation geared solely at the automotive industry.  

I invite members to visit MTAiQ and see its activity. It is envisaged the hub will include start-ups and entrepreneurs producing and implementing ideas that will shape and change the future of the automotive value chain. Some of the business and ideas have the potential to provide opportunities for members and clients.

Innovation Award

To promote innovation within the Association, at each President’s Annual Ball an award is presented to a member who endorses and leads creativity, whether this is customer service programs unique building, planning and environmental projects or another form of advancement. From several competitive applications, Townsville-based EVNorth, owned by Michael Lunn, was selected as the 2017 Innovation Award winner. The core of the business is rebuilding internal combustion engine vehicles to run as plug-in electric vehicles. There are several facets to the business, one of which is that the workshop, including processes such as welding and machining, runs on off-grid solar power and power is stored internally in 20KW battery banks.

Custom vehicles, including retro vehicles, are catered for at EVNorth. In 2001, the business converted a Chrysler PT Cruiser to run as an electric vehicle. Other conversions include a soft-top Mira for Magnetic Island Soft Top Vehicle Hire and a Hyundai Getz. An extension pack for Toyota Prius is being developed. 
Community Award

As is the practice at the President’s Ball, the Community Award is presented to a member business that has a strong focus on working with the community it serves. This year’s award was presented to the Cairns enterprise, Mark Dodge Motoring. For more than 30 years, co-owners Mark and Sue Dodge have been connecting their business to their community.  Amongst the support for the many charitable events has been 15 years of financial contribution to research Muscular Dystrophy and 20 years as part of the Cairns Rotary Club.

MTA Queensland has a strong charitable focus and we are currently a charity partner of Youngcare, the charity for young people with high care needs. Across the years, since the inception of Youngcare in  2005, we have made contributions in one form or another and on Melbourne Cup Day this year, we hosted a fundraising function. The funds raised will enable the purchase of three mobility bed rails or nine bathroom grab rails which help young people with high care needs to gain more independence. 

President’s Ball

The President’s Ball is a unique event on the MTA Queensland calendar. Under the theme ‘Advancing Industry’, Board members, corporate partners, automotive business owners and staff, apprentices and trainees, corporate staff, interstate and invited guests come together to celebrate a year of achievement in the industry. Master of Ceremonies Shane Jacobson performed entertained with aplomb and guest speaker Craig Lowndes OAM of Supercar outfit Team Vortex enthralled with motorsports insights. The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the MTA Institute Apprentice of the Year and presentation of the $2,000 cheque to Elliott Lemmon from Greg Tunstall Automotive in Ormiston.  


I continue to engage with academics from the university sector to consider research collaboration on Business Process Analysis. I also progressed our support for the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre application. The intention is to collaborate with the Queensland University of Technology on this research proposal that includes the identification of the full potential of 3D metal printing. For the Association and the automotive industry, 3D Print manufacturing and the associated skills required are high priorities to foster new businesses and develop a sustainable workforce.

Underway is an Automation Skills cross-sector project, led by a Project Reference Group in which I’m an active participant. 

The purpose is to identify skills that are shared by multiple industry sectors in relation to automation, and to develop a Case for Change. It will be recommending training package developments and modifications to address the identified cross-industry skill requirements. This will aid in the preparation of training products that can support automation, ensuring a skilled workforce for the automotive and related industries.

As part of our innovation focus, we invited Department of Science, Information, Technology and Innovation officers to visit the MTAiQ which enabled discussion on matters relating to assistance and information programs and grants and introductions to incubators and start-ups. A comment made during the visit was that the hub space was ‘great’. More important however, was the conversation that the Association had commenced within the automotive industry and the collaborations generated with stakeholders. In 2018, there will be a continuing conversation and focus on innovation with a third Carmageddon symposium planned for March.

And the last thing 

As a student, one of the poems I studied - and didn’t appreciate at the time - was Leisure by W H Davies.  Now, at the end of a proactive and productive year, I recall fondly and with understanding the lines:
‘What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare …’

With Christmas comes some precious leisure time with family and friends. For me, Christmas will be with family and relishing my first year as Eli Brett’s grandfather. So good! After Christmas, leisure will step up a gear with time out for diving, snorkelling and holidaying.
Best wishes to each of you for a merry Christmas and happy New Year. I hope your plans and activities enable you to refresh for a 2018 that is productive and prosperous.

The Corporate Office staff join with me in wishing members every good wish for Christmas and the New Year.
Until February, as Henry Ford, the industrialist and the founder of the Ford motor company said, ‘execute ideas with enthusiasm . . . as it is the bottom of all progress’. 

Archive CEO Monthly Messages 

CEO November 2017 Monthly Message

CEO October 2017 Monthly Message

CEO September 2017 Monthly Message

CEO August 2017 Monthly Message

CEO July 2017 Monthly Message




The Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTA Queensland) is the peak body representing the interests of over 2,500 employers in the retail service and repair sectors of Queensland's automotive industry.

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