Championing change

One Australian logistics professional has launched her own networking events to encourage, mentor and champion women working in the industry. 

After noticing that men were overrepresented at networking events she was attending in Brisbane, Queensland, logistics professional Melissa McDonald decided to create a unique space for women in the industry to meet, share knowledge and gain confidence.

“Nowadays, networking is for everyone, not just salespeople,” she says. “Everyone needs to build a personal brand. At a lot of networking events, women are the minority so I wanted to create one where they could feel comfortable, share their knowledge and experience and improve their networking skills. I love this industry and wanted to give back.”

The events, dubbed ‘Women in Logistics (BNE), have been supported by Melissa’s employer – procurement company Lasso, and logistics company Qube. The women-only sessions feature cocktails, snacks, industry speakers and networking practice.

“Networking is a necessary and long-term commitment,” she says. “Knowing how to network effectively and to push yourself outside your comfort zone can be very rewarding. Networking is the first step to embarking on a trusting relationship with someone new.”

In 2018, Melissa intends to hold Women in Logistics (BNE) every quarter, bringing together professionals from freight forwarding, airlines, shipping lines, warehousing, trucking, government, defence, import/export, procurement – across the supply chain.

“I put a lot of thought, time and effort into the events, and it’s important to me that attendees enjoy themselves and leave feeling more empowered,” she says.

“I get a lot of great feedback from women who feel more confident after attending, having connected with other women who have similar stories – both good and bad. It’s a comfort to them to know that other women have these experiences – they unite us.”

Striking the balance

Melissa notes that while companies are increasingly recognising gender imbalance, the industry as a whole still has a long way to go. “The industry needs to be more inclusive – the ‘boys club’ mentality still very much exists,” she says. “As a result, there is a massive disconnect between the job opportunities secured by men and women, and other issues like the pay gap.”

Getting women and men on an equal footing will require a concerted effort by both genders, she notes. “Women need to be more forward and vocal,” she says. “Sometimes you just need to tell your managers – whether men or women – what you want, how you want to progress – they’re not mind readers.

“Be open and honest and they may be able to help you get to where you want to go.”

Alongside this, she recommends that women make an effort to network effectively and often. “Join industry networking events and local business networking groups to build your brand – and make time to go,” she says.

Men can help propel their female colleagues by inspiring confidence in them, Melissa adds. “Talk to your female employees, colleagues and managers about personal development or career advancement that they would like to undertake, and help them form a plan to achieve it,” she says, though she notes that those in leadership positions are crucial to effecting change. “Management is hugely important,” says Melissa. “They set the tone for the company, so if male and female managers lead by example it will happen organically.”

Finding inspiration

Through Women in Logistics (BNE), Melissa has started to mentor younger, professional women. “I have not really had a mentor per se, though there have been male and female individuals that have supported, advised and inspired me along the way,” she says. Her career in logistics has been driven by passion, and she is keen to help clear the way for those still finding their own path in the industry. “I fell into logistics at age 18, working a job part time while studying at university,” says Melissa. “I discovered I loved the industry – it opened my eyes to all of the moving pieces in logistics. I then went on to study and gain the theoretical knowledge to back up my practical knowledge.

“During my career, I have had to learn a lot of things the hard way – on my own. I think that mentors are important and valuable to career progression, however I think they are hard to find. I have not heard of many people within logistics having a mentor, which is why I offer my help to the women that attend the networking events.”

Changing perceptions

Melissa hopes that her Women in Industry (BNE) networking events will inspire others with the means to nurture young female talent in male-dominated industries, and that – ultimately – small actions such as providing networking opportunities and prompting meaningful discussions will help lead to valuable change. “I want to help change the way women are seen, managed and respected, by themselves, their colleagues and industry peers,” says Melissa. “The way this is going to happen is by getting more women in higher management positions, with the power to effect change – and to get to that point we need to ignite those ambitions today.”

Australia’s new freight capital?

This feature appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.
Uniquely positioned to support the movement of rail freight between the east, west and south of Australia – and soon, with Inland Rail, north too – Parkes in New South Wales has set its sights on becoming the hub of choice for the country’s logistics operators.
For a regional town 350km inland from Sydney in New South Wales, Parkes has done a remarkable job of putting itself on the map. The town, named for Australia’s ‘Father of Federation’, Sir Henry Parkes, hosts ‘the Dish’ – an iconic radio telescope, and a hugely popular annual Elvis festival. Its ‘next big thing’ is to become the keystone in the country’s freight logistics network.
On the verge of something big
Parkes Shire Council has long recognised the strategic advantage that Parkes’ location at the crossroads of major road and rail freight routes provides logistics operators. “The Council has been mindful of preserving corridors for future development,” explains Anna Wyllie, Economic and Business Development Manager of Parkes Shire Council. “Over 10 years ago, we set aside land for the Parkes National Logistics Hub, meaning we have very good buffer zones in place with no urban encroachment.

Anna Wyllie, Parkes Shire Council.
Anna Wyllie, Parkes Shire Council.

“We have been preparing for opening our doors to investment for a very long time, and have looked very strategically at how we plan.”
Following the FY17 Federal Budget allocation of $8.4 billion for the Inland Rail project, it was announced that construction will begin at Parkes in 2018, for the Parkes-to-Narromine link. “The Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Rail will intersect with the east-west line at one place, Parkes,” says Anna. “Can it get any more central than that?”
Location, location, location
Parkes Shire Council recently created a cheeky social media pitch to Amazon that attracted close to one million views and highlighted the fact that 80 per cent of Australia can be reached by road from the town, though Anna notes that its intermodal capabilities set it apart.
“Parkes is in an amazing position,” says Anna. “At the moment, rail can go east, west and south, and when the Inland Rail comes, you’ll be able to go north from Parkes, too – this means that there will be access to all major ports. We have great road train and B-double access, and are right on the Newell Highway – in fact, New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services is looking at doing a bypass of the Newell Highway at Parkes. We also have a large regional airport with three passenger flights to Sydney a day, and the capability for air freight.”
Anna shares that the town is excited to add ‘rail capital’ to its identity. “The first section of the Inland Rail, between Parkes and Narromine, will be the catalyst of change for the way in which freight moves in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria – the whole of Australia,” she says. “We’re a really proactive council – we don’t claim to be experts in transport and logistics, but we’re really good facilitators. Parkes offers some fantastic opportunities for companies looking for efficient, low-cost logistics solutions.”
In good company
Several major logistics operators have already made Parkes home, including third-party logistics (3PL) company Linfox and interstate road and rail transport company SCT Logistics, which has run its intermodal terminal in Parkes for over a decade. “SCT moves merchandise from the eastern states across to the west via Parkes,” says Anna. “They truck their goods in, put them in the warehouse, load them into high-top containers trains and take them over to Western Australia twice a week.
“It’s the first place they can run a 1.8km train and double stack containers on the route from Sydney to Perth.”
When asked what his vision was for the Parkes National Logistics Hub, Glenn Smith, CEO of SCT Logistics, said: “SCT has been here for about 10 years and Parkes has been a great hub for SCT for that period of time. But with the announcement of the Inland Rail line, we see SCT opening the door to importers and exporters and general freight carriers who need to move freight efficiently anywhere in the country, or import or export out of the Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney ports.
“I see Parkes’ future as a great import/export hub. I see two trains a day servicing exporters and importers into ports around Australia. I also see opportunities, being so centrally located, for wagon maintenance, locomotive maintenance, possibly even manufacturing of rail equipment.”
In October 2017, rail freight operator Pacific National committed $35 million to the development of its own terminal in Parkes, at the intersection of the east-west line with the Inland Rail north-south line. “It will be approximately 600m long, but its final form will be 1.8km, making it one of the largest sidings in Australia,” adds Anna. “Pacific National’s CEO, Dean Della Valle, expects the terminal to be operational by 2019, and we can already see the efficiencies in the market by using Parkes.”
Forward planning
In 2006, with approval from the New South Wales Government, Parkes Shire Council rezoned 516 hectares of agricultural and industrial land on the western edge of the town for the development of the Parkes National Logistics Hub, with an additional reserve of over 100 hectares. The site has been specifically designed for the 24-hour, seven-days-per-week operation of a multi-modal transport facility.
“In the coming years, we will have one of the biggest transport and logistics hubs in Australia,” says Anna. “We have a 600-hectare greenfield site, which is on the western side of town, with plenty of room to grow.”
According to Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director of the Australian Logistics Council, Parkes’ location sets it apart. “As well as being directly on the line between Port of Melbourne to the Port of Brisbane, there’s already existing connections through to Newcastle, Sydney and Kembla,” he says. “More importantly, it’s also on the rail link over to Adelaide and Perth and even connections to Darwin, so Parkes is really set to become Australia’s largest inland rail hub.”
Reaping the benefits
Anna is excited to see Parkes flourish as a key intermodal waypoint. “Inland Rail will bring a new diversity and prosperity to the economy in Parkes,” she says. “The agricultural industry in the region will absolutely benefit from it, with the cost of getting goods to port set to drop by $10 per tonne.
“We’re in a rich agricultural area with amazing fresh products. We can see the potential, not just for our national domestic markets but for the incredible growth of Asian markets.”
She notes that Inland Rail will be good for consumers, regional communities, transport and logistics operators – with transport and logistics operators able to choose the right load for the right mode of transport.
“Parkes is proud to support these benefits spreading to the nation as a whole.”

Eyes on the prize

This feature appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.

In the increasingly complex world of supply-chain logistics, ensuring end-to-end visibility of product movements is no longer just a possibility – it’s becoming a necessity. 

Real-time traceability of transport services offers consumers a sense of control in order deliveries – it’s now possible to see precisely where a purchase is located, at any time.

The increase in visibility through tracking technology has already been one of the most prominent changes to the transport and logistics industry in recent decades, explains industry expert, Naval Sabharwal. Naval, who has spent 35 years in various roles in the logistics sector, now holds the position of Global Head – Supply Chain and Logistics at business software provider Ramco and has experienced the technological shift first-hand.

Naval Sabharwal, Global Head – Supply Chain and Logistics, Ramco.
Naval Sabharwal, Global Head – Supply Chain and Logistics, Ramco.


“Visibility is the biggest change to the logistics industry, and technology is a huge enabler,” he says. “Gone are the days of working on pen and paper, using carbon sheets to make copies and waiting a week or more to get the status of a delivery. Now, you can see the status within milliseconds by using tailor-made software solutions.”

Yet, according to the latest State of Logistics report produced by global consultancy AT Kearney, the rising demand for greater transparency and reliability is becoming more complicated to deliver, as e-commerce adds complexity to supply chains. The report finds that rapid technological change and new business models are driving logistics towards fully digital, connected and flexible supply chains, optimised to meet rising consumer expectations of immediacy, personalisation and convenience.

Ramco has been in the logistics market for 10 years. Two years ago, the company made the strategic decision to address these new demands, developing an integrated suite of cloud-based software services for logistics companies to use to track cargo and provide transparency to customers.

“E-commerce recognises no borders,” says Naval. “With the likes of Amazon expanding globally, the need for integrated logistics software became apparent. While the biggest external challenge facing the customer is being able to provide end-to-end visibility of orders, we also found that by increasing traceability internally in a business, there is a real opportunity to maximise profitability.”

That profitability comes through increasing capacity utilisation, he explains, adding that the average logistics company’s capacity utilisation is only at 27 per cent – meaning 73 per cent of capacity created is not earning revenue. Simply reorganising assets using an integrated optimisation engine can bring that up to 42 per cent, he says. “That’s a 15 per cent jump, which directly impacts revenue margins,” Naval adds. “More important – once you improve capacity utilisation, suppliers become more engaged, and it becomes easy to build and create more capacity and improve the yields from capacity, driving the growth engine.”

Ramco’s software can match all of the data on available capacities to demand on a weekly basis, do the scheduling and also allow logistics service providers to draw on external assets as required. “What we did was use Uber as the base model,” he explains. “Uber’s strength is in how it manages capacity for its suppliers, and we built a model tailored to the logistics industry.

“Just like Uber, the focus is not just on its features, which include automatic data capture, scheduling, GPS, data management, billing and routing. The focus is also on ease of use – there have been many great logistics optimisation software tools that have failed because they are too hard for customers to use effectively.”

To ensure end-users are able to get the most from the Ramco Logistics suite, a member of its advisory board meets with its customers once every six months or so to get direct feedback, Naval explains. “We ask all our customers what they want the software to be able to do, collate the responses, analyse them, then add the features,” he says. “We implement around 93 per cent of the input we receive from customers and are constantly upgrading the software to meet the logistics industry’s evolving needs.”

Ramco’s findings on changing consumer demands are in line with that of the State of Logistics report, which advises that the industry is shifting from a transactional business model focused on discrete services toward an integrated model of ‘one-stop shops’ for end-to-end logistics services. “Ninety per cent of our customers use the complete end-to-end suite that covers transport, hubs and warehousing points,” says Naval. “The real value of the suite is its integrated nature. By covering every step of the transaction, we’re able to minimise revenue leakages.”

Naval notes that the average logistics company is subjected to revenue leakage of between one and three per cent, month-on-month, adding that it can be reduced to less than 0.1 per cent through the use of an all-encompassing suite of software. Utilising blockchain technology (see breakout box) will be an important next step to increasing visibility in the global logistics industry, he says.

“The way we see it, the global supply chain – including shipping, air, rail and road – has no option but to go to blockchain,” says Naval. “Consumers are bound to get more conscious of health and safety areas, for example. They want to know the food they eat wasn’t sourced with child labour or subjected to pesticides. That information is lying around, and the only way to provide end-to-end visibility to a consumer is with Blockchain.”

Though visibility in the global supply chain has evolved significantly since the early days of pen, paper and carbon sheet copies, according to Naval there is still a long way to go. The State of Logistics report echoes those sentiments, adding that as demand for e-commerce reshapes networks and relationships, technology uptake must follow suit.

Refurbished Linde forklift is a pools winner

Queensland company Shipping Container Pools proves the benefits of recycling and re-use right down to the certified refurbished Linde forklift at the heart of its operations.
Millions of Australians saw the company’s approach demonstrated when TV program The Block featured one of its above-ground pools made from a repurposed shipping container.
That marked the current high point for a family business that began as a joint project when Johannes Roux combined his pool building experience with architecture student son Jonavan’s exploration of shipping containers as building elements.
“We’ve moved to larger premises three times and our output has grown from one shipping container pool per fortnight to now dispatching seven each week,” says Jonavan Roux, explaining how the Linde forklift became an essential asset for the business.
Saving time on a budget
“We began with an old 2.5-tonne used forklift and a tilt-tray truck to handle the shipping containers we convert,” says Jonavan. “Now we are using a gantry crane and a refurbished Linde H70D 396 seven-tonne diesel forklift at our Coolum Beach factory.
“The original method took a day per container, but now with our Linde forklift, one man can accomplish what we need to do in ten minutes, including lowering the access stairs and fibreglass shells into positions.”
Shipping Container Pools contacted Linde with a view to acquiring a used forklift with 2.4-metre tynes and seven-tonne lift capacity after observing a neighbouring business’s successful use of Linde equipment.
Certified refurbished quality
The company took delivery of the Linde seven-tonne diesel forklift sourced from the Silver level of Linde’s Certified Refurbished Forklift program. Its condition was covered by comprehensive pre-delivery preparation including forklift mast, carriage and hydraulics tested to forklift manufacturer’s specification, steer axle checked and set to forklift manufacturer’s specification, hour-meter function tested and a complete repaint to the forklift’s original colours.
The full forklift truck history was made available and the truck was also covered by a warranty of six months or 500 hours parts and labour.
“The Linde has been in service with us for nine months,” Jonavan says. “It is a perfect fit for our growing business. Obviously the purchase price was attractive, but it also has all the capability that we need. It is in use every day, constantly running up and down the production area and it has never let us down.
Engineered for durability and performance
Standard features of the Linde H70D 396 seven-tonne diesel forklift that contribute to its popularity, whether new or refurbished, include hydrostatic drive, the Linde Protector Frame with an enclosed, robot-welded chassis for maximum durability and protection of components.
Linde twin drive pedals create fast and smooth travel direction changes without constantly moving feet from one pedal to the other and short pedal travel eliminates strain on ankles or legs. Mini levers for all mast functions are mounted on an adjustable armrest allowing precise and effortless fingertip control of all hydraulic functions for safe, efficient load handling.
The Linde Truck Control system creates high reliability resulting from duplicated monitoring systems and automatic control of engine speed determined by the load carried. It is enclosed in sealed modules for protection against dust and dirt.
First impressions prove correct
“We couldn’t believe it when it arrived from Linde,” says Jonavan. “It looked completely new throughout, and not just the paintwork. The handover was very professional and so we could put it to work immediately.
“Various operators get onto it throughout the day. They all love it and have commented on how good it is in areas such as the controls and the drive system.
“We see this as an investment which will serve us well for several years to come. At the rate we are growing we are probably going to need a similar one from Linde within the next year. Based on our experience we believe it has been a bargain.”

We can't delay the hard decisions

This article first appeared in the August/September issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.
By Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, Australian Logistics Council.
In the lead-up to the 2016 Federal Election, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) urged the development of a comprehensive National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to address these challenges.
The Federal Government subsequently agreed to undertake the development of such a strategy during the Prime Minister’s Annual Infrastructure Statement to the Parliament in November 2016.
Throughout the months of 2017, the ALC has been working closely with its members, supply-chain participants and other interested parties to catalogue the unique challenges faced by the transport and logistics sector, and to craft recommendations for appropriate policy responses from the Government.
The ALC believes the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy presents an ideal opportunity to establish a high-level framework that will facilitate the safe and efficient operation of Australia’s supply chains, which will:

  • provide an integrated and efficient freight transport and supply chain network for Australia’s international and domestic supply chains;
  • to the fullest extent possible, ensure that policy settings and regulation are competitively neutral between the different freight transport modes;
  • allow freight operators to innovate and increase the productivity of the freight logistics services they provide, in order to improve outcomes for consumers, Australia’s industries and the wider economy; and
  • contribute to continuous improvement in the safety of all freight logistics operations, as well as improved societal and environmental outcomes.

In early August, the ALC released Freight Doesn’t Vote – its final submission to the Inquiry Into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities. This comprehensive document sets out a pathway that will equip the nation’s supply chains to deal with the economic needs of the future.
The reality is that Australia’s economy is being transformed by population growth, by technological change and by the changing behaviour of ever-more-discerning and empowered consumers. Like all other industries, the freight logistics sector must adapt to an economy in transformation.
Moreover, given the exponential growth of the middle class throughout Asia, and thus the importance of exports to Australia’s continuing economic performance, becoming a world leader in supply-chain efficiency and safety is not merely desirable, but essential.
The lived experience of Australian society over recent decades points to increasing levels of urbanisation. Effectively, this means we are trying to do more in a limited physical space.
In particular, resurgence in the desirability of inner-city living coupled with rapid rates of population growth present some urgent challenges for our freight logistics industry.
The essential items that most Australians take for granted in everyday life – food to eat, household appliances, clothing, medications and vehicles to name just a handful – are generally not grown or manufactured close to the places where most of us live.
These commodities must be transported from their point of origin to the retailers from which we purchase them, or otherwise delivered directly to our doorsteps from ports, freight depots or warehouses.
Yet, as we create more populous cities, it is fast becoming apparent that our existing planning regimes and approaches to development fail to adequately prioritise the movement of freight.
The congested state of many major freeways and key arterial roads – as well as traffic gridlock within cities themselves – is a constant source of annoyance for many Australians. However, more than simply being an irritation, these problems are symptomatic of a far deeper issue.
Capacity constraints in the road network are not only a problem for motorists – they also impose significant costs on the freight logistics industry.
The disruption to the supply chain that occurs because of road congestion as well as capacity issues afflicting ports, airports and rail freight facilities all have an impact on the cost of moving freight – and ultimately, the prices paid for goods by Australian consumers.
Australia’s supply chains do not stop at state borders. Our economy is national – and accordingly a nationally consistent approach to infrastructure and the regulation of freight movement is required.
In an ideal world, a national economy should be managed by the national government. This includes the responsibility for the development of the infrastructure and regulatory settings necessary for the nation’s supply chains to operate safely and efficiently.
In many circumstances, the Australian Government has encouraged the development of individual pieces of infrastructure through financing. However, many of the decisions relating to the planning and delivery of such projects are made by state and/or local governments.
This is the reality of Australia’s federal structure. Like all other industries, the freight logistics sector must work within the restraints imposed upon it by the Australian Constitution.
The unfortunate by-product of this constitutional reality can often be duplication and delay in achieving the sort of policy reform that industry – and the entire economy – badly needs.
Freight Doesn’t Vote makes a total of 41 specific policy recommendations, dealing with challenges faced by all modes of freight transport, as well as the inefficiencies that are acting to curb growth, and regulations that fail to adequately account for a changing economic environment.
Unless freight movement is given far greater consideration when planning decisions are made, business and consumer expectations about rapid and efficient delivery of goods will be difficult to meet in the future.
This is particularly true of CBD freight delivery, where competition for road space between passenger and commercial vehicles is already adding to business costs and consumer prices.
Continuing investment in infrastructure that permits deliveries from freight distribution centres to CBDs is critical if we are going to successfully meet our increasing freight task.
Some form of freight-only infrastructure should be considered by governments to improve freight delivery and decrease congestion and emissions in high-demand environments.
This may include the establishment of urban consolidation centres for freight delivery, as well as the adoption of ‘reverse curfews’, which would provide freight vehicles with the right of access to parts of the road at non-peak times, in order to improve efficiency of deliveries.
In its submission, the ALC contends that this is one area where the Federal Government can play a leadership role, by incentivising the incorporation of such measures in urban planning systems, and commissioning a formal review of practices such as curfews that inhibit efficient CBD freight delivery.
Freight Doesn’t Vote also urges the Federal Government to prioritise greater use of technology enhance the efficiency and safety of our freight networks.
This includes assisting small and medium providers with the adoption of global data standards to enhance supply-chain visibility, and moving towards the mandatory use of telematics in heavy vehicles as a means of improving driver safety and establishing a fairer, more effective model for road pricing.
Blunt instruments such as fuel excise charges and registration fees are no longer raising sufficient revenue to support the road network of a 21st-century economy.
As such, it is imperative that we move to a fairer, more efficient road pricing and investment model, under which users pay according to where and when they travel.
Technological enhancements, such as GPS tracking, now make it easier than ever to monitor vehicle use.
It is time to use these technologies as the basis of a fairer, more responsive approach to road pricing which delivers investment where it is most needed – not where it is most politically expedient.
This measure will undoubtedly produce its fair share of controversy.
In its submission, the ALC recommends that in order to manage that, it will be important to have a respected, independent umpire in charge of making pricing decisions. The ALC suggests that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the most appropriate body.
To ensure its effectiveness as an independent economic regulator for the transport sector, it may be prudent for the ACCC to appoint a specialist Commissioner to deal with transport and logistics issues.
Further, the ACCC should establish a specialist unit to identify regulatory issues in the transport sector, working closely with industry stakeholders and state and local governments to ensure a pricing approach that delivers the right investment outcomes.
Freight Doesn’t Vote does not shy away from recommending initiatives that may prove to be politically challenging in the short term – particularly when it comes to having greater Commonwealth involvement in planning, as well as road pricing and investment reform.
The political challenges associated with pursuing difficult reforms now, however, will be as nothing compared with the political and economic pain that will be the lot of future governments if we fail to get the policy settings right today.

Do you understand CoR?

This article first appeared in the August/September issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.
By Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, Australian Logistics Council.
Speculation about the impact of Amazon on the Australian retail market kicked up a notch in late June, when news emerged that the company had acquired upscale grocery chain Whole Foods – effectively acquiring ‘bricks and mortar’ stores in strategic locations across the United States.
Many local industry participants are now wondering precisely what that might mean for the retail sector here in Australia, given Amazon’s well-publicised plans to expand in this country.
Yet, for all the time and space this and similar developments occupy in news pages and on television, most of the commentary on the issue is driven by speculation.
At the same time, comparatively little attention is being given to another significant change coming our way – one which won’t just impact freight logistics operators, but also anyone that uses their services.
Granted, it’s not in the shiny form of an app, or a big new market player, or drones delivering groceries straight to the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings in our cities.
Although the coming changes relate to something far more down to earth, they are far more relevant to the day-to-day operation of businesses.
Despite that, awareness and coverage of the issue to date has been astonishingly low.
The forthcoming changes to Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws, which are due to come into effect in mid-2018, will have an impact on the operations of businesses throughout the economy – not merely in the transport sector.
Accordingly, now is the time to become familiar with exactly what those changes will mean for your business – and establish appropriate systems within business operations to ensure compliance.
For those who may be unfamiliar with its operation, the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) sets the rules that ensure vehicles of more than 4.5 tonnes in weight operate in a safe manner in all states and territories of Australia (except Western Australia and the Northern Territory).
Under its provisions, if you consign, pack, load or receive goods as part of your business, you can be held legally liable for breaches of the HVNL – even if you have no direct role in driving or operating a heavy vehicle.
In addition, corporate entities, directors, partners and managers are deemed accountable for the actions of people under their control.
This is what is meant by the ‘Chain of Responsibility’.
The aim of the CoR laws is to make sure everyone in the supply chain shares equal responsibility for ensuring breaches of the law do not occur.
Under CoR, if you exercise – or have the capability of exercising, control of or influence over – any transport task, you are part of the supply chain, and therefore have a responsibility to ensure the law is complied with.
The law also recognises that multiple parties may be responsible for offences committed by the drivers and operators of heavy vehicles.
By way of example, let’s consider consignors and consignees of goods.
Effectively, the HVNL is designed to prevent consignors or consignees from pressuring a transport operator to engage in unsafe behaviour, such as speeding or driving long distances without adequate breaks.
If a driver is found to have broken speed limits, or driven in a fatigued state, everyone who was responsible for requiring the driver to undertake a long journey in an unsafe manner could be prosecuted under the national law.
This is because consignors and consignees are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that drivers don’t speed or drive whilst fatigued. The current maximum penalty for failing to do this is $10,000.
Furthermore, this responsibility extends to directors who either authorised or knew – or ought to have reasonably known – about unsafe transport requirements. That said, it is considered an acceptable defence to show that parties such as directors have shown reasonable diligence in ensuring that the law is complied with.
Accordingly, if you are in a business that deals directly with transport operators to either send goods to clients, or to receive goods from suppliers, you should make certain you have a well-documented set of procedures establishing business rules requiring goods to be transported in a fashion that doesn’t compel drivers to act in a reckless manner.
It would also be prudent to ensure that the executive board establishes reporting requirements that measure how well these procedures have been adhered to.
Having appropriate procedures in place will become vastly more important when the amendments to CoR laws commence operation in the middle of 2018.
These changes are designed to align CoR more closely with workplace health and safety (WHS) laws.
Under the new regime, a primary duty of care will be introduced for supply chain participants to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of ‘road transport operations’, with executive officers (such as directors) having the primary duties regime applied to them through a positive due diligence obligation, similar to that imposed by WHS law.
Essentially, this means that if you or your company operates, loads, drives, sends or receives goods using a heavy vehicle, you will effectively have the same responsibilities as you presently do under WHS law to ensure that the CoR under the HVNL has not been breached.
This means you will need to make certain all reasonably practicable steps are taken to ensure vehicles are properly loaded and goods secured, and that drivers undertake their responsibilities in a safe manner.
This underscores the need to ensure that properly documented road transport practices are kept, and that your organisation’s executive board is kept properly informed as to compliance with these measures.
Yet, in a survey undertaken by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) in April this year, 50 per cent of respondents did not believe their organisation understood the changes coming to CoR.
Even more worrying was the fact that 90 per cent of respondents were unable to say the CEO of their organisation fully understood their obligations in respect of these matters.
Given the clear lack of knowledge about CoR and the operation of the HVNL, it’s evident that far more needs to be done to support industry in meeting its obligations – and time is of the essence.
Considerable efforts are now under way within the freight logistics industry to help make this happen.
The HVNL permits the development and registration of registered industry codes of practice.
People who can demonstrate compliance with a Code can use this as evidence to prove they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the discharge of their safety obligations.
The ALC and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) are now working together to develop a registered industry Master Code of Practice designed to assist freight and supply chain participants in complying with their CoR obligations.
It is the intention of the ALC and the ATA to have the new Master Code ready when the changes to CoR come into effect in mid-2018.
This will help provide certainty for the industry and promote higher standards when it comes to heavy-vehicle safety – which is in the interests of all road users.
The Master Code will help meet and manage the common risks faced by all heavy-vehicle operators, and help reduce red tape and compliance costs.
Given that 98 per cent of trucking businesses have fewer than 20 employees, and that other relevant road parties such as consignors and receivers also have HVNL obligations, establishing a Master Code is a practical way to help responsible parties manage safety risks.
Work on developing the Master Code is now well under way, and the ALC will be working with the ATA to keep industry fully informed as to its progress.
A particularly significant stage of its development will be the 2017 ALC Supply Chain Safety & Compliance Summit [please note, this event has now passed, read a full review in the December 2017 Logistics & Materials Handling].
Taking place in Sydney, 5–6 September, this event will provide an opportunity for participants to have direct input into the Master Code’s content, though a series of workshops focusing on management of speed, fatigue, load and maintenance issues.
All organisations with an interest in improving supply chain safety should register to attend, and make sure their views are heard as the Master Code is developed.

CCTV 2.0

This interview first appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Logistics & Materials Handling. 
For many years now, images captured by closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, whether on public or private property, have been used to secure convictions, establish timelines, and identify suspects after crimes have been committed.
The technology’s main limitation until now has been the quality of the video and images produced: these have often been inferior to the point they cannot clearly establish a chain of events, or positively identify a suspect to the standards required in courts of law. The cameras themselves have essentially been ‘dumb’ recorders of events, unable to identify or signal a security breach or incident in real time.
CCTV technology has now evolved to an almost unrecognisable state, says Chris Pearson, Managing Director of security consultant and design firm Quorum Security.
“Most people have no idea how smart and powerful CCTV camera systems can be, especially when connected to access control/alarm systems,” he adds.
“Cameras nowadays come with video analytics (VA) software that can identify if people or vehicles are moving in the wrong direction, if a truck has exceeded the site’s speed limit or if persons have entered a restricted area, or breached a perimeter when the facility is closed. There’s software coming out now that can recognise if workers aren’t wearing their full PPE (personal protective equipment), or have products or items in their hands when leaving the production area, to deter pilfering and theft.”
Ross Head, Managing Director at security technology company nXient, says, “A human security guard can be in the wrong place when an incident occurs, or make errors of judgement – they might even be bribed to ‘look the other way’. Once you’ve installed modern cameras, they work 24/7, and don’t take coffee breaks or make mistakes.”
Chris adds, “Corporates have long seen security as a grudge purchase, but there really are good business cases now for investing in quality, well-designed systems – benefits include higher efficiency, increased safety and proof of due diligence. Although we’re a security company, we’re also about risk management and proving due diligence for our clients.”
A cut above
Although both nXient and Quorum Security are consulting, design and installation companies that offer a range of security products, Mobotix is the brand of choice for intelligent digital cameras (called IP, for ‘Internet Protocol’) for both men.
“Mobotix cameras are tougher than a Russian tank,” says Chris. “They operate on Antarctic bases, in deserts in the Middle East, are strapped to the under-wing of fighter jets – they’re incredibly resilient, and can easily cope in the harshest cold-storage or logistics environments.”
Ross notes that the Mobotix cameras also boast protection from the elements.
“All Mobotix cameras have no moving parts, and Mobotix outdoor cameras are completely sealed against water and dust,” he says, adding that they also offer a great feature set – the latest IP technology and an “incredibly high” resolution for a CCTV camera, six megapixels.
When implementing security systems, companies often think that any camera system will do, Ross adds.
“People understand brands and their relative value in fashion, cars and so on, but they are brand blind in a business like ours – they don’t know the difference between Mobotix and anything else on the market,” he says. “All they see is the price, but the truth is that the capability and quality differences in CCTV systems can be astounding.”
It was thanks to a request from a Quorum client that Chris and Ross now offer a unique combined CCTV and access management system.
“Martin Brower, global logistics provider for restaurant chain McDonalds, wanted its Mobotix CCTV cameras to be able to communicate with the Hirsch access control system,” says Ross.
“nXient’s engineers wrote an integration between Mobotix’s in-built video management system (VMS) and the Hirsch Velocity software,” he adds. “This allows the system to act as an intelligent outlier, sending alerts to a monitoring team when it senses unauthorised presence or motion.
“Mobotix and Hirsch each have their own language, so we created a middle language, or ‘middleware’, to allow them to interacttogether.”
This integrated system has enabled deliveries and pickups at Martin Brower to be organised much like an airport runway – if a truck tries to gain entry too early or too late for its pre-designated time slot, entry can be delayed or denied – and the driver may need to negotiate a new time slot, enabling greater dock turnaround efficiencies for the logistics firm.
The importance of homework
Chris believes that the first thing any company should do when considering a CCTV and/or access control solution is work out its true wants, needs, and pain points.
“It’s important to establish why you need a new system: whether it’s for safety compliance reasons; standard security concerns such as break-ins, theft and pilfering; or the need to restrict and control access for staff, visitors, contractors and drivers around a site – there could be dozens of different reasons” he says. “Next, you need to get a licensed security consultant in to help you design a fit-for-purpose solution.”
Ross adds that many security firms with licensed security consultants will undertake a comprehensive site security audit and write a detailed report at no cost, or a minimal cost for large sites, which can then be credited back if the consultant wins the project to install the recommended systems.
“Get somebody in who knows the environment and issues in your industry well, and who’s installed a lot of systems for similar companies to yours. They’ll be better able to understand your current and future needs,” he notes. “Both Chris’ company and my own regularly provide telephone advice to enquirers free of charge.”
After handing over its list of issues and requirements, as well as ‘pain points’ to the consultant, Ross advises that companies start asking hard questions.
“What’s the warranty, and what back-up resources are provided?” Chris suggests. “Will the system be compatible with future models? Are replacement parts stocked locally? Can you give me a list of reference sites I can talk to?”
Ross adds, “When choosing, it’s vital to go for something adaptable, as your needs today may change in the future. A flexible, expandable, feature-rich solution will service you better when the threat level changes and your needs expand. Sometimes our clients want to scale up their existing security system, but the product they are using is inferior, perhaps it’s not IP66 (all-weather) or safety compliant, or it simply cannot connect to modern systems.”
Chris says, “The vast majority of our clients will double the size of their camera systems within four years of the initial installation. They originally only want surveillance in the distribution centre, for example, but after seeing the value and the capability of Mobotix cameras, they want it in the loading dock, the office, production areas, entry/exit points – everywhere.”
The differences between low-cost camera systems and reputable models can be significant, Chris believes. “For example, low-light functionality (lux rating) is often all-important for clients, as it reduces the need for lighting large areas at night. A low-cost product may offer a certain lux rating, with a 23° field of view and an effective visible range of 20m, whereas a high-quality product may have a lux rating that’s ten times more effective than the cheap option, along with a high-resolution, 360° view and a clear visual range up to 40m. Price-based decisions are often a false economy, as a client may need up to three or four times the number of cheaper cameras to do the same job.”
Technology in camera systems has now made them intelligent enough to require less storage than their predecessors, Ross adds. “Memory used to be expensive, and cameras quickly filled hard drives. Now, memory is cheaper – we recommend saving a minimum of 30 days’ storage of images, for which companies with quite large CCTV systems will only need a few terabytes.
“Also, modern cameras are smart enough to only send images to the server/storage device when it’s necessary, so the required bandwidth on a client’s network is much lower – yet they’re sentient enough, for example, to instantly capture images of the driver and the number plate if a truck comes into the camera’s field of view. As a result of that, searching the database for a specific incident is now faster and simpler.
Once you’ve found a reputable system that offers the functionality you require and obtained a quote, it’s time to get more, Chris advises. “You must get competitive quotes, as with any business expenditure,” he says. “There’s no need to rush into an agreement, but it’s critical to ensure that you’re being quoted on a like-for-like system. Don’t only look at price – check out the experience, skills and reputation of the bidding company, and take this information on board as well when you make a decision.”
When the new security system is installed and up and running, companies should nominate an appropriate staff member to take ownership of, and champion, the system, Chris says. “With training, he or she can have a good understanding of how the system works,” he adds. “If that employee moves, a new employee should be nominated and trained, so that the site always has skills to operate the system when a security breach or WHS (Workplace Health and Safety) incident occurs – and these events often come with a requirement to move quickly to secure the images for analysis and review.
“We’re only really now beginning to see security camera technology show its potential,” says Ross. “Fifteen or 20 years ago, the public was largely against CCTV, due to concerns about privacy intrusion. That perception has changed – people now view it as technology that helps solve crimes and keeps everyone safe. Today, more than 80 per cent of major crimes are solved with the aid of CCTV images.”
Chris adds, “Just like the computer industry, CCTV system prices will continue to decrease, while their power and efficiency increase. I think the next big technology change for this industry will be video analytics integrating with AI (artificial intelligence).
“Cameras will be more useful in a preventative sense, alerting us to potential danger before it happens.”
As an example, Chris says that ‘thermographic’ cameras – which can instantaneously detect minute temperature changes – are already being used as preventative tools. “They monitor the temperature of generators and other heat-generating machines in factories, and send an alert if a change is detected, signalling the need for maintenance and reducing costly breakdowns,” he says. “Also, they’re being used in cold stores, to tell whether incoming or outgoing product is even a fraction of a degree outside of the mandated temperature range.”
Ross concludes, “In the future, we’re going to see cameras used as a multi-purpose tool in almost every area of life – public safety, commerce and industry, healthcare, transport, retail environments and in homes or apartments – and these systems will not just record events, but also monitor situations and signal necessary changes or problems in real time. Exciting times lie ahead.”

Back on track

This article appeared in the August/September issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.
Over the next decade, Australia’s new Inland Rail is going to reinstate rail as a viable option for the east coast’s rural producers. The new InterLinkSQ Intermodal Terminal and Industrial Precinct in Toowoomba, Queensland, is strategically positioned to connect the country’s exports by road, rail, air and sea.
InterLinkSQ is a new intermodal and industrial precinct currently under construction in Toowoomba, 170km to the west of Brisbane, that will offer a Toowoomba-to-Port shuttle via rail by June 2018, and link with the Inland Rail in 2024. InterLinkSQ is strategically located at the junction of three major highways – Gore, Warrego and New England, by the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, and eight kilometres from Toowoomba’s new domestic and international airport.
Crucially, the 200-hectare development sits along both the new Inland Rail route and the established Queensland regional rail network, including the West Moreton line, which connects directly to the Port of Brisbane. Prior to the Inland Rail connecting to InterLinkSQ, the development will utilise the existing rail infrastructure by creating a shuttle from Toowoomba to the port of Brisbane, creating efficiencies in logistics by allowing for more goods to be exported.
Transport inefficiencies are prevalent in the region – for example, approximately 200,000 tonnes of chickpeas were left in the ground in the Darling Downs region in 2015–2016 due to an inability to move the goods to port as a result of a lack of road transport.
By creating a rail shuttle from Toowoomba to the Port of Brisbane, InterLinkSQ will allow road transport to move more efficiently in regional areas. By moving freight via rail from InterLinkSQ, trucks can be removed from Brisbane’s already congested roads, explains Michelle Reynolds, CEO, InterLinkSQ.
“For every train from InterLinkSQ to the Port of Brisbane, around 54 trucks will be removed from the urban and passenger road networks,” she says, noting that a 2015 Deloitte Demand study reported that the Port of Brisbane was keen to promote freight on rail and the need for development of inland terminals, citing a need to avoid the road-based congestion expected to confront the port in the coming ten years, should no modal shift to rail occur.
“Along with increased productivity for road operators and improved safety standards on urban roads, for every container (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit, or TEU) that is transferred from InterLinkSQ to the port of Brisbane by rail, rather than road, there will be a reduction of 125kg of C02 emissions,” she adds. “These same trucks can then operate in higher productivity configurations in regional and rural areas to consolidate the increased freight volumes expected as our producers increase production volumes to meet the growing requirements of our export markets.”
InterLinkSQ features a Global Logistics Centre with an open-access rail terminal, plus a 140-hectare industrial park. Its $235 million rail transfer centre is currently under construction, with rail services set to commence in June 2018. While the precinct is set to become a major freight hub for goods moving between major metropolitan centres such as Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Darwin, a key goal of its establishment has been reaching rural producers. “South East and South West Queensland, and areas of northern New South Wales have long faced freight transportation inefficiencies,” says Michelle. Unable to access rail freight services, these regions have been forced to rely on road transportation. “Inland Rail is not only about connecting Brisbane and Melbourne, it’s about connecting region to region, and regions to ports.
“In talking to some producers, they have told me that freight costs can be up to 50 per cent of the cost of the product by the time it gets to port. InterLinkSQ will be a linchpin in helping those rural producers maximise supply chain efficiencies.”
InterLinkSQ will provide access to the key agricultural and mining regions to the west, as well as access to growing international markets via road, rail, air and sea, Michelle adds. “Reduced transport costs will allow producers to lower the cost of exported goods, making Australian produce more competitive.
“Toowoomba acts as a funnel for the major export regions of the Darling Downs and Surat Basin, over the Great Dividing Range and to the Port of Brisbane,” she says. “This region mainly produces coal, grains, cotton, meat and pulses.” The terminal has been planned to meet both current and forecasted future demands – initially it will have a capacity of 96,000TEU, this is expected to rise to 750,000TEU. Over the next ten years, the precinct will be positioned to become a “port of destination” for shipping, Michelle explains. “InterLinkSQ is a game-changing project, primarily funded by 86 local families,” she says.
“The InterLinkSQ project has been developed to boost the Toowoomba economy and create much needed efficiencies in the rail freight industry. It is a community project, developed as a result of direct need from businesses in the region.”
InterLinkSQ will initially move freight from the Darling Downs in Southern Queensland to the Port of Brisbane, Michelle adds. “The project’s initial rail freight offering from June 2018 will save farmers around $50 per TEU, according to a report done by property and infrastructure specialist APP,” she says. “The ability to locate businesses on the InterLinkSQ site with direct access to rail will bring additional savings to local businesses, allowing the region to grow exponentially.
“The implementation of rail, both nationally and locally in Southern Queensland, creates efficiencies in the logistics chain allowing farmers to produce more goods at a lower cost, thereby enabling produce to be more competitive in the global market.”

Highlighting the industry’s view

With the Federal Government having announced the composition of the expert panel that will advise on the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, the real work of shaping its content is now well and truly under way.
It’s not indulging in hyperbole to say that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. Australia’s rapidly growing population coupled with changing patterns of consumer behaviour – especially with the growth of e-Commerce – will impose significant additional demands on the freight and logistics sector.
Indeed, the National Transport Commission (NTC) estimates that Australia’s freight task will grow by some 26 per cent in the next decade alone. When you think of the capacity constraints that are already evident in some of our major cities, particularly growing traffic congestion, such forecasts can appear daunting.
Although it will require a significant degree of hard work on the part of the freight and logistics industry, I am nonetheless confident that we can come up with solutions that will allow us to meet this burgeoning demand.
We know that industry is willing to play an active role, and we know that the Federal Government’s agreement to develop a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy shows decision-makers are willing to listen to industry’s advice.
Thus, our immediate challenge is to make certain the advice we provide is the right advice, which will help ensure the Strategy that emerges is the right one for our industry and the right one for the Australian economy.
I think there has been an encouraging start on this front.
At the beginning of March, the ALC held its annual Forum in Melbourne, and the entire focus of the event was discussing the content of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
Of course, we are not starting with a blank piece of paper. Many of the attendees at the Forum are leading figures within Australia’s freight and logistics industry, and throughout their many years of collective experience they have garnered insights and evidence that will prove invaluable in terms of getting policy settings right.
Although ALC Forum 2017 was the first industry-wide gathering since the Prime Minister’s announcement last November that the Government would develop the Strategy, the discussions revealed there is already a remarkable degree of consensus across the industry about what is required to make it effective. This is a strong basis from which to work.
To help synthesise the industry’s conversations to date, the ALC has produced a Working Paper that summarises the views of industry to date about the contents of the Strategy.
Some of the major themes addressed in that publication are as follows:
Urban encroachment issues
In the lead up to the 2016 Federal Election, the ALC prepared a document called Getting The Supply Chain Right, which highlighted the freight and logistics industry’s most pressing priorities for an incoming government.
One of those was urban encroachment, and the lack of buffer zones, land separation setbacks and design mitigation measures around sensitive use developments, which can significantly hamper the efficient operation of freight-related infrastructure.
At the time, the ALC noted that the national freight supply chain will be unable to support Australia’s growing demand if facilities and infrastructure continue to be prevented from realising their optimal capacity, due to restrictions imposed on their use or operating conditions.
This includes things like night curfews for airfreight and port facilities, restrictive speed limits and the banning of heavy vehicles from key routes that provide access to freight facilities.
These things are often pursued by governments in search of an electoral boost. However, their long-term impact is to simply build inefficiencies into the supply chain, which ultimately results in higher consumer prices.
As industry ‘insiders’, we understand that there is a symbiotic relationship between good outcomes for freight efficiency and good outcomes for the community.
The problem lies in the fact that this is vastly underappreciated by the public at large, and even at times by decision-makers within government.
This is how we end up with poor planning outcomes, such as the failure to preserve freight corridors, and insufficient consideration of freight operations when pursuing ‘urban infill’ objectives surrounding new residential developments.
The freight and logistics industry needs to better ‘sell’ the fact that corridor preservation equates to improved safety, liveability and efficiency outcomes.
Technology issues
There was a broad consensus among participants at the Forum that not enough is being done to make use of data, both in terms of improving safety and efficiency across the supply chain, and also when it comes to effectively planning the nation’s freight infrastructure.
Of course, the top priority must be safety in the supply chain. Regrettably, Australia’s approach to safety in the trucking industry is lagging significantly behind that of other comparable nations. In particular, several participants at the Forum noted that Australia’s trucking industry is making insufficient use of telematics when it comes to making business decisions.
The ALC will continue to pursue a national telematics law, permitting the use of data about vehicle performance, equipment and driver behaviour that can be used to enhance road safety, improve efficiency within the logistics industry and identify problems with driver behaviour.
Technology also offers a potential way to overcome the impact of ever-more restrictive planning and vehicular access policies when it comes to CBD freight delivery. One detailed presentation discussed using urban consolidation/distribution stations. These can provide for multi-modal routing systems using bicycles, walkers and electronic vans to facilitate freight delivery.
It is far more efficient than using large vehicles to deliver small loads – especially given that an increasing number of large-scale residential developments do not incorporate delivery zones or provide access facilities for freight vehicles.
Rail issues
There is very strong support within the industry for construction of the Inland Rail, at last providing a port-to-port rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane. This project has had a long gestation, but with the increasing demand for freight resulting from free trade agreements and the growth of e-Commerce, encouraging more freight onto rail is vital.
Constructing the Inland Rail will help to cut freight transport times, reduce road congestion and promote cheaper consumer prices. There are also considerable economic benefits for regional communities along the route.
However, there are also opportunities elsewhere in the sector to make greater use of short-haul rail. This includes pursing projects like the duplication of the rail line at Port Botany, which will help achieve NSW Ports’ target of moving three million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) by rail by the year 2045.
Pursuing a rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and three of Victoria’s inland ports will also be important in promoting supply greater supply chain efficiency and addressing road congestion.
This issue is especially important in the context of Asia’s rapidly expanding middle class, whose appetite for the type of high-quality agricultural goods Australia produces will be a source of growing demand on our freight and export infrastructure. We must be mindful not to cede our competitive edge in this area by failing to have a supply chain that operates safely and efficiently from paddock to port.
The next steps
The ALC believes that a dynamic Strategy requires a dynamic consultation process to guide its development, and accordingly the ALC will be continuing to engage closely with industry over the coming weeks and months to make sure we get the right outcomes.
However, from the conversation thus far, it’s already apparent that there are some clear expectations from industry.
Existing freight infrastructure needs to be made to operate efficiently, through making sure planning instruments not only identify and preserve the industrial lands to provide the jobs and logistics facilities of the future, but also ensure new residential developments do not encroach on infrastructure and prevent its effective utilisation.
It will also be necessary to establish some form of mandatory system of data collection that will allow better decision making and improved outcomes in safety, planning and investment decisions, all of which will help boost productivity.
We will need to move towards hypothecation of levies, fees, taxes and charges raised for the purpose of developing an identified piece of infrastructure – so that money raised is invested properly and not put back into consolidated revenue.
The construction of Inland Rail must continue to be treated as a priority, ensuring rail as a modality has a clear place in moving freight in the Australian supply chain.
Great Commonwealth leadership needs to promote supply chain safety and efficiency – this includes helping the public at large understand the importance of supply chain efficiency, as well as incentivising state jurisdictions to consider freight needs in their planning instruments by making Commonwealth funding support subject to conditions such as having corridor preservation strategies in place.
Finally, the establishment of a specific Federal Department of Planning and Infrastructure will allow the Commonwealth’s expertise in these areas (including the development of funding mechanisms) to be concentrated and properly able to be used as resource, by industry and by other jurisdictions.

Australian businesses ‘underprepared’ for rising ransomware threat

In recent months, the WannaCry and Petya outbreaks caused widespread disruption and losses for businesses and public-sector bodies around the world, highlighting the vulnerable position of businesses when it comes to cyber security. Many are still failing to undertake urgently required remediation, experts have warned, and it is feared a new wave of targeted cyber crime is coming.
Experts at a security roundtable event in Sydney on 11 July agreed urgent action was required by Australian businesses of all sizes to ensure they were as prepared as possible before the next wave of attacks occurs.
“Business owners are understandably focused on the day-to-day challenges of running their business,” said David Cohen, Founder and Managing Director, SystemNet. “But unfortunately this means they are not paying sufficient attention to cyber security.
“Many might be aware of the risks, but have not considered the impact a ransomware attack could have on their operations. Effects could range from mild inconvenience to a data loss so significant it puts them out of business.”
Monica Schlesinger, Principal, Advisory Boards Group International, noted that the situation is not confined to small businesses, in fact many large organisations are also vulnerable to attack. She pointed to the most recent Petya attack that caused significant disruption for global firms such as advertising giant WPP, legal company DLA Piper and Danish shipping giant Maersk.
“Every business needs to have a clear strategy in place when it comes to cyber security, and formation of that strategy has to start at board level,” she said. “The strategy must take into account the evolving threat environment and clearly outline the steps that will be taken to minimise the risk of attack.”
Schlesinger said that, traditionally, IT challenges tended to not be well understood at board level, however the current environment had made cyber security an issue that required constant oversight by senior management.
“It needs to be seen as special risk,” she added. “When you suffer an attack it can happen very quickly and can destroy your company. It’s not a case of ‘if’ an attack will happen but ‘when’ and the board needs to be sure all required steps have been taken.”
Roundtable participants discussed the ramifications of the Notifiable Data Breaches Bill that will come into force in February 2018. The bill requires companies to report security breaches where there has been unauthorised access, disclosure or loss of personal information held by a company that is likely to result in ‘serious harm to any of the individuals to whom the information relates’.
“This means the impact of attacks can no longer be swept under the carpet,” said David Higgins, ANZ Country Manager, WatchGuard Technologies. “Senior management has to be aware of its responsibilities and realise that security can no longer simply be left to the IT team. They have to take a top-down approach.”
Although the recent ransomware attacks have served to increase awareness of the challenge, roundtable participants agreed more education was required for Australian business leaders. Many were still not taking basic steps such as deploying software patches that could significantly reduce their level of risk.
“There is also a need for ongoing education of staff around IT best practices,” said Cohen. “They must be aware of the risks associated with opening emails from unknown parties, visiting suspect websites and installing software from unknown sources.”
Higgins agreed, saying IT security was the responsibility of everyone in a business and all had a part to play in ensuring defences are as robust and effective as possible.
“Awareness and action has to extend from the managing director or board through to the most junior staff member,” he said. “By taking a holistic approach, businesses can ensure they have both the tools and behaviours in place that are needed to counter the threat.”
While ransomware has captured the bulk of attention when it comes to cyber crime, the panel speakers emphasised that there are other trends that should also be on the radar screens of Australian businesses. The trends include:

  • Evolving Attacks: Attackers do not remain stagnant and, as new technologies emerge, they evolve their tactics to be more effective. Ensuring robust security will involve monitoring a shifting target.
  • Authentication: One of the foremost tenants of security is trust, and trust is based on authentication. Unfortunately, the primary mechanism used for authentication – passwords – is no longer sufficient. New methods must be quickly found and put into use.
  • Everyone is a target:  there is a misconception among small- and medium-sized businesses that, because they don’t have huge amounts of intellectual property, they won’t be attacked, but that’s a fallacy. Bad guys don’t always want to steal data, and in the case of a ransomware attack, they don’t want the data at all – they just want the victim to want it badly enough to pay to get it back. Everyone is a target.

“Cyber attacks are going to become more sophisticated and, unfortunately, more effective,” said Higgins. “By having a multi-layered defence strategy in place, applying patches and educating staff, businesses can be best placed to withstand the threats that will have to be faced in the future.”

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