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ATA elects industry giant as new chair

The NHVR has moved to welcome the popular industry member as the ATA’s new chair while the association also announces a shuffle of its board

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has announced the election of its new chair to replace the retiring David Smith.

Mark Parry, who is currently the managing director of Ron Finemore Transport, is the association’s new chair.

ATA members elected Parry as the new chair to follow Smith, who was elected as chair in 2020 and was re-elected in 2022.

As a successful and experienced senior executive in the manufacturing, mining, contracting, transport and logistics spheres, Parry, who is also the deputy chair of Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds, says it’s an honour to follow Smith as the ATA’s chair.

“Trucking plays a very important role in supplying our daily needs. The ATA has a broad membership base and seeks to represent the industry to a wide range of stakeholders,” Parry says.

“I look forward to seeking to help improve the safety, sustainability and the ongoing viability of our industry for those involved in it.”

ATA members also elected Australia Post executive James Dixon to its board, with Dixon saying he’s committed to working with industry and government to create opportunities to attract and retain professional drivers.

“In particular, we need to press on with the outstanding work of the ATA and industry on improving safety and compliance. A safer industry will assist in attracting future talent and the professional drivers the industry needs,” Dixon says.

Retiring chair Smith says his time in office has been marked by crises that include bushfires, the COVID pandemic, floods and an AdBlue shortage.

“Despite these crises, we achieved an increase to the width of new trucks and trailers, mandatory advanced braking, and important protections in the new law that enables the Fair Work Commission to issue road transport orders,” Smith says.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has moved to welcome Parry and farewell Smith, with NHVR chair Duncan Gay saying the regulator is looking forward to working with the ATA’s new structure.

“On behalf of the NHVR Board and staff, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Mr Parry on his recent appointment as chair of the ATA,” Gay says.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says he looks forward to continuing the collaborative partnership between the NHVR and the ATA, including with ATA CEO Mathew Munro, in driving positive change and advocating for the interests of heavy vehicle drivers and operators nationwide.

Together Gay and Petroccitto also wished outgoing chair David Smith all the best for his future endeavours.

“The NHVR thanks David for his extensive contributions to the heavy vehicle industry, and the invaluable partnership he has maintained with our organisation over the years,” Gay says.

“We value the critical role ATA plays in promoting best practices and ensuring continued safety and efficiency on our roads, and following Mark Parry’s appointment, I know together, we will continue to drive improved outcomes for industry.”

Smith will remain on the board as the ATA’s immediate past chair, with three directors in Noelene Watson, Geoff Crouch and Austin Vella retiring from the association’s board.

“I want to express my gratitude to the ATA’s board and council for the opportunity for growth and development that I have had during my tenure with the ATA,” Watson says.

“The guidance and support of directors and councillors have played a crucial role in my professional journey, and I am thankful for the trust the council placed in me by electing me as chair.”

Crouch became a member of the board in 2013 and was ATA chair from 2017 to 2020, as well as a former president of ATA member association NatRoad.

“It was an extraordinary and humbling honour to be elected as chair of the ATA in 2017; it was a privilege to be able to play a part in supporting Australia’s great trucking industry,” Crouch says.

“It would not have been possible, though, without the support of the ATA’s CEO at the time, Ben Maguire, Chief of Staff Bill McKinley and the entire secretariat, who collectively provided tremendous and invaluable support and guidance.”

Vella became a member of the board in 2014 and was vice chair in 2017.

“It’s been an absolute honour to work alongside so many leaders in our industry. As a director of the ATA and in my ongoing role as Chair of Road Freight NSW, I have had the opportunity to meet with other operators, regulators and our political leaders as we worked together for the good of the industry and the community,” Vella says.

“This was particularly the case in NSW as we advocated directly regarding freight movements through COVID, NSW re-opening in 2021 and safety messaging for all road users. I was honoured to be recognised by the NSW freight industry in 2022 for that work through the pandemic.

“I would like to thank the ATA chairs that I worked with for their leadership, and I wish Mark and the current directors all the best.”

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