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Hensher honoured for outstanding contribution

Transport academic takes home prestigious Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Supply Chain Management Award

By Anna Game-Lopata | June 28, 2013

Transport academic Professor David Hensher last night won the prestigious Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Supply Chain Management Award.

Hensher joins the ranks of notable industry identities such as Air Vice Marshal Margaret Staib AM, who won the award last year, and Linfox founder Lindsay Fox.

The award, presented at the Smart Awards in Sydney, recognises individuals who make a significant contribution to their field, looks for innovation and creativity outside ‘traditional’ supply chain improvements.

Hensher is a recognised voice for transport issues in New South Wales and conducted research at Oxford University in the 1970s that remains influential today.

He founded the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) at Sydney University, one of the country’s key centres for teaching and transport management research. ITLS now also offers post graduate qualifications to the industry.

“Sometimes they say when you get an award it’s the end of your career. But I’ve been in this industry for 40 years and this award has rejuvenated me,” Hensher says.

He told the 300-strong Smart Conference industry dinner that relationship management, trusting partnerships and the focus on operations to the detriment of strategy are still significant challenges for the transport sector.

He says while most of the industry’s focus is on freight logistics, passenger logistics has been ignored.

“Passenger logistics is a supply and value chain, although it’s very hard often to convince people in that industry who think services begin and end at the railway station,” he says.

“The topic of trust and partnerships is at the heart of the malfunctioning of many supply chains as it the reason for their success.

“The big message is identify partnership obligations but be absolutely clear about who has control of what and have this defined unambiguously in partnership contracts.”

Road pricing is another issue close to Hensher’s heart. He says he has been debating the issue with governments for 20 years.

“Politicians don’t like the words ‘pricing reform’. They run amok when it comes to suggesting something that might benefit the community,” he says.

“The big challenge as I see it is getting buy-in for sensible reforms that can benefit the transport sector. Sadly there’s a real lack of communication about the benefits of pricing reform for the freight and passenger networks.”

Hensher says the media has generated too much emotional ideology around road pricing reform.

“As soon as you talk about road pricing [people] immediately assume you’re going to slug the truckie or motorist with a congestion tax and that sends the debate backwards,” he says.

“What we need is wholesale reform, such as introducing distance based charges at peak times. We need to demonstrate to businesses how they can increase productivity to the tune of billions of dollars and improve people’s quality of life in general.”

Hensher says there is a long way to go but the industry should get behind it.

“If the industry is convinced, we might stand a chance of convincing the politicians,” he says.

The Smart Conference and Expo will move to Melbourne for the first time in its history in 2015, and will run alongside the National Manufacturing week.

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