Private equity a mistake: Little

Australia’s freight industry is becoming overregulated, according to Toll Group Managing Director Paul Little

By Ruza Zivkusic | February 21, 2011

Australia’s freight industry is becoming overregulated, according to Toll Group Managing Director Paul Little.

Speaking at the 2011 Australian Logistics Council Forum in Melbourne today, Little also says the general economy is suffering from the private equity sector.

"I don’t believe the private equity sector has succeeded -
it has moved into our industry and pushed the prices and expectations up," Little says.

"Do they add value to our industry? I don’t think so. I’m concerned to see the ownership of many of our assets in the industry by the private equity," he adds.

Addressing the Freight Networks for the Future session, Little says the industry can’t afford to pay increased rates during rough times.

"One of the concerns I have with the union is that we can only pay what we can afford to pay as an industry; paying more when we’re doing better as an industry is okay but the union needs to accept if we’re not doing well then we can’t afford to pay increased rates, or superannuation."

He supports self-regulation but says the industry should steer away from over-regulation.

"The danger in Australia is that we’re becoming over-regulated," LIttle says.

"I always thought no one else was to blame but ourselves.
If you can regulate yourself then the governments and the authorities will leave us alone.

"Self-regulation is the way to go but let’s not be over-regulated."

Linfox Chief Executive Officer Michael Byrne says Australia’s economy is driven by Asia and is urging the Federal Government to put more emphasis on the Mandarin language in schools, saying China will hold the largest part of the economy’s sector in the next 25 years.

"The economy is driven by Asia and we’re teaching Latin, French and Italian at schools," Byrne says.

"The country is not thinking long-term about the education system, where the incomes come from and who we will work for.

"We need to focus on how we can make our children and their children great- it’s not the old world Europe and America but it’s driven by the Asian economy.

"To be focused on the financial reality, we need to change our education system so we can change and enjoy the standard of living."

Fifty-three percent of Linfox’s business is based in Asia and its Australian employees are currently being taught Mandarin, Byrne says.

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