CEO Monthly Message
Dr Brett Dale
There’s been a smorgasbord of activities that has had the effect of positioning the MTA Queensland as the peak automotive value chain body and a leader on addressing the impacts of digitisation, innovation and technological change. A review of my diary indicates the Association has been present for the significant advocacy events where automotive policy and related issues are discussed and our views clearly enunciated. It is through this process, both oral and written, that we’ve achieved outcomes that benefit members’ businesses and positions the sector in the technological transitioning that is taking place.
Each event or meeting I attend on behalf of the Association is interesting.
I want to share with you some insights into these. At the recent Reserve Bank Board community dinner, the Governor Dr Philip Lowe overviewed the Board’s meeting that day at which there had been a thorough discussion of recent Queensland economic developments. He said the State’s economy had gone through a difficult period following the winding-down of the mining investment boom with impacts concentrated in some regional communities.
Currently, the Brisbane property market was being monitored carefully, particularly the effect on prices of the large increase in the supply of new apartments. The Board was paying close attention to trends in household borrowing and debt. On a positive note the Governor indicated that a range of indicators, including employment and retail trade, suggested there was a recent improvement in Queensland’s economic conditions. I’ve noted, in the Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the up-kick of an annual increase of 3.8 per cent (s.a.) in the sales of new motor vehicles.
In September’s From the Desk of the CEO, I mentioned I’d been invited by the Queensland University of Technology Law Faculty to be a speaker at its symposium on the impact of 3D printing. I draw to members' attention the emergence of 3D printing metal with its abundant applications for the automotive, aerospace, construction, defence and medical industries. Clearly, this technology will transform these industrial manufacturing sectors owing to its diverse applications in lightweight engineering products. The 3D printing metal is at the turning point of technology development. It is only now that it is able to compete with mass production compared with traditional approaches to manufacturing. We need our motor trades to consider this technology as having the potential for new business opportunities now or in the near future.
The most exciting event was an invitation to attend HMI Technologies Ohmio Automation launch of three electric shuttle buses in Christchurch, New Zealand. These buses were described as being the world's first ‘self-driving and scalable public transport solution’. The vehicles use self-mapping artificial intelligence, which means that once they have completed their route a single time under supervision, they are able to self-drive the route over and over without external input. Four Ohmio models will be built in the next 12 months. Interestingly, HMI Technologies were attracted to New Zealand because the government allows the actual testing of driverless vehicles which is not the circumstance in Australia. HMI has trials underway at Olympic Park in Sydney with New South Wales State Transport Authority and with La Trobe University, Melbourne. For more information see The Christchurch Press.
The visit to Christchurch for the Ohmio Automation launch was timely as two reports were released that highlighted the urgent need for action in the face of massive technological change. The House of Representatives Industry, Innovations, Science and Resources Committee report relating to trials of driverless vehicles in Australia was released. We made a substantial submission to the Committee on this subject and participated in the round-table discussions. The report outlined specific benefits including improved road safety outcomes, increased mobility and access for those unable to drive themselves, potential public transport applications and improvements to traffic congestion, urban design and productivity.
The second report, commissioned by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), indicated that road crashes cost the Australian economy almost $30 billion annually. It stated that federal policy interventions were urgently needed to reduce deaths and injuries. The report made recommendations relating to the promotion of safer vehicles and adoption of new vehicle technologies.
These reports were a reminder that Australia, as a matter of priority, needs to be backing trials linked to driverless technology. Across the world, the pace of technological change is advancing quickly. Government has the regulatory responsibility for trials to commence.
In the May From the Desk of the CEO, I referred to engagement with the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) with the Connected and Automated Vehicle initiative. This now has gained traction with TMR recruiting some 500 Ipswich residents to retrofit their vehicles with cooperative intelligent transport system technology for on road testing from 2019. We, the MTA Queensland, are technically involved in this project as installers. There remains an increased opportunity for the Queensland government to actively engage and support pilot programs involving autonomous vehicles as part of its Advance Queensland strategy.
With personnel from MEVO (a start-up company), who intend to provide an on-demand free-floating electric vehicle car share business, I met Brisbane Marketing - the commercial arm of the Brisbane City Council (BCC) - to discuss parking permits and other matters. This is the first engagement with this entity which aims to expedite local council support for business. To me, it was a useful contact particularly in terms of the development of our Innovation Hub. Next month, with Core SME Services - a start-up that has relocated from Sydney to our Innovation Hub - we’ll be meeting with the BCC’s Transport, Planning and Strategy Division to discuss intelligent car parking applications.
A most satisfying meeting was with the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Training Karen Andrews to discuss training and related strategic issues. I advocated for the return of the abolished Mentor Advisor Apprenticeship Program (MAAP) or like program. Under this program, mentors guided apprentices through their first year of an apprenticeship and this resulted in 95 per cent of apprentices going on to their second year. It promoted the automotive industry to school students, job expos etc. I raised with her the importance of the emerging technologies and the need to consider future workforce skills as a priority for investment. The Minister engaged fully in the discussions and directed her advisors to link the MTA Queensland to national agencies to address the key issues discussed.
As a consequence of our submission to the Australian Competition and Commission’s (ACCC) New Car Retailing Industry - a market study, I attended the roundtable to discuss the study’s recommendations. The most contentious issue was the proposal for a mandatory scheme for car manufacturers to share technical information with independent repairers on fair and reasonable terms.
I cautioned against a mandated government code, stating that it was likely to be to the detriment of our independent repairers based on the entry criteria being expensive and resource intensive. An agreed mandated industry code was the preferred model. An ACCC officer followed up the round-table discussions with a video conference call for a one-on-one dialogue held on the 4th October. I reiterated the views expressed at the round-table and those raised by the AED more recently. The final report on the market study will be published in late 2017.
AND THE LAST THING
In the coming month, the emphasis is on the MTA Queensland showpiece activities. These are the Annual Golf Tournament, the Annual General Meeting and the annual President’s Ball. The Corporate Office takes pride in delivering these events seamlessly and with style. In addition to these, there is the official opening of the Innovation Hub. At this time, the opening date is not yet settled. We await clarification form the Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business the Hon Leeanne Enoch as to the timing. In the coming month she maybe pre-occupied with other matters.
Until November, 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 September 2017 Monthly Message
CEO August 2017 Monthly Message
CEO July 2017 Monthly Message