NatRoad and the ARTA propose merger

NatRoad and the ARTA are urging members to support a merger of the two organisations

By Brad Gardner

NatRoad and the Australian Road Train Association (ARTA) are pushing their members to support a merger of the two organisations.

The decision to propose an amalgamation was made during the 2008 NatRoad Conference with both boards agreeing the move would increase member services while reducing costs.

If the deal goes ahead, the organisation will be renamed NatRoad Incorporating the ARTA, with the ARTA operating as a sub-committee.

ATN understands ARTA chief Executive Duncan Bremner will either partner NatRoad Chief Executive Bernie Belacic or take up a junior role if the merger goes ahead.

Furthermore, it is expected an ARTA representative will step into a vice-presidential role while Bremner says two or three ARTA board members will join the NatRoad board until 2010, when there will be an open vote.

The future of the proposed merger now rests with respective membership groups. ARTA members will vote during the organisation’s annual general meeting on September 5.

If they approve, NatRoad will then hold another general meeting to gauge the level of support from its members.

Bremner is cautiously optimistic of the merger moving forward, saying it is in the best interests of both groups. But a combined organisation "is still a long way off" as NatRoad and the ARTA sort through legal issues.

There were initial concerns the decision came because one organisation was financially unstable. However, Bremner says the ARTA and NatRoad are in a strong financial position and can still operate separately if the deal fails.

But because NatRoad and the ARTA have constantly worked together across a number of areas, the former president of NatRoad, Roger Pickering, says amalgamating is the best option.

"In reality this move simply formalises what has long been a natural fit between the two organisations whilst removing the duplication of policy development, resource investment and membership services," Pickering says.

Bremner says a Natroad-ARTA combination will be better placed to pressure governments into implementing key reforms.

"It will be a leaner, more efficient operation but also a formidable voice," Bremner says.

"It is going to provide a lot of muscle."

But in saying that, Bremner stressed the importance of both groups retaining their branding and identity in recognition of their place in the industry.

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