President’s Column – 13 September 2019

Image shows President David O'Loughlin smiling in front of a black background

It’s just over nine weeks until our National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hahndorf in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, only half an hour from downtown Adelaide.

Registrations are already up on last year, indicating the joint metro and regional focus is hitting the mark.

If you haven’t already registered, I encourage you to do so here.

This year’s theme is ‘Breaking through for modern transport’.

Our speakers include experts on road funding such as Matthew Lugg OBE from WSP in the United Kingdom, a former president of the UK Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, and Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew AO.

Also speaking are leading figures from road safety research to help us understand how every dollar we spend on roads at the local level can contribute to less trauma and a lower national road toll. And experts in heavy vehicle regulation will provide a progress report and advice on this important initiative and how we can protect our infrastructure from unnecessary damage.

We’ve invited the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, and hope both will be able to attend and address us.

When I met Mr Buchholz in Parliament in July, he outlined his proposal to encourage regionally organised bids for regional roads funding. I was enthusiastic about this proposal and have invited him to share it with you in person – where I encourage you to promote your cause.

Catherine King, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development has also accepted our invitation to give the Opposition’s perspective.

Noting the rapid pace of technology, we’ve a panel discussion on drones and their role as a last mile transport option. Our panelists include a representative from drone outfit Wing Australia, part of the Google group, which operates a delivery trial in Canberra’s northern suburbs. Could drones save our local roads from the inundation we are seeing in small freight vehicles delivering online ordered parcels?

We’re delighted our congress is hosted by Mt Barker District Council. I look forward to hearing Mayor Ann Ferguson outline how she leads a regional council which lies in a growing area in the Mt Lofty Ranges, just beyond the fringes of metropolitan Adelaide.

Mt Barker District Council is a leader in waste-water management with their final treatment ponds a popular civic park and walking trial, and water sensitive urban design, mainstreet landscaping, tourism infrastructure, burgeoning residential development estates and much more.

We’re pleased the council will host two special tours to the Laratinga wetlands and associated treatment facilities, and across their local government area so delegates can learn first-hand how staff are addressing local challenges.

Vehicles come in many configurations. City of Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor will lead a panel discussion about preparing for the transport evolution. Her council offers incentives for installing electric bike and electric vehicle charging stations.

Not only can e-bikes and electric cars improve air quality in our communities, electric vehicles are effectively giant batteries on wheels. Auto makers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi offer Vehicle-To-Grid technology, where your electric car can literally power a building.

With this in mind, the City of Adelaide is encouraging more electric vehicles to connect to the grid and create a virtual power plant.

Our gala dinner on the Tuesday is set to be memorable as it’s held in the auditorium of the beautiful Adelaide Town Hall. Sadly, I’m not talented enough to entertain dinner guests on the auditorium’s historic organ – but I could be tempted to try!

One of the biggest challenges facing Local Government is dealing with waste and recycling. On Tuesday afternoon we’ll discuss the latest in efforts to create a circular economy and how your road procurement decisions can play a vital role.

I look forward to hearing delegates share stories and experiences such as transport funding challenges, if electric vehicle charging stations have made a difference to your tourism markets, and how you stretch every dollar to maintain your roads and bridges.

Get your skates on – see you in Hahndorf!

David O’Loughlin
ALGA President