Steve Shearer receives OAM for services to the trucking industry

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

SARTA executive director among those to receive Queen’s Birthday honours.

Steve Shearer receives OAM for services to the trucking industry
Reward for effort: Steve Shearer has received an OAM for services to the trucking industry.


South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive director Steve Shearer has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) as part of the Queen’s Birthday 2014 Honours List.

Shearer received the OAM for service to the heavy vehicle transport industry in South Australia.

He has been involved with the association for 20 years – a journey that at times he says has been challenging.

"When I started 20 years ago we didn’t have a very good relationship with the media. In fact we had a bad one and we didn’t have a relationship with the authorities," Shearer says.

"I can truthfully say that we’ve got an excellent working relationship with authorities now, we work very closely together and we know that their view, the police and the department believe that the vast majority of operators are good.

"They know that 75 plus per cent of fatal accidents of cars and trucks are actually caused by the person in the car, not us, they know that we get it right at the great bulk of time and they know it’s a small minority they focus on whereas 20 years ago they were just after the whole industry all the time, they had no real understanding of how the industry worked and they thought everyone was a millionaire."

A truck accident that saw six people killed in South Australia 15 years ago was the turning point for the industry. 

It was then that the association started having closer relationship with media, Shearer says.

"I went on air and did a live long interview because I refused to do a recorded interview because they could chop and change it. Because of the things I said, the fact that we faced up to the realities and talked about what we were working on to fix it, all of a sudden some people in the media and in government started to listen," he says.

"It is very hard to get them to understand the realities of the industry and the constraints.  

"We’ve kept that same approach up. Bad things happen, we don’t run away from them, we talk to the press openly and honestly and we talk to the industry about what it needs to do to avoid it from happening again."

"I’m not going anywhere for a while," he says. 

"I’ve enjoyed most of it, there are bits that I quite happily say I didn’t enjoy at all because they were so mind-numbingly frustrating and some operators don’t give me much joy because I spend my life defending them as an industry and some morons come out doing some stupid things and I have to do it all again."

Although he has chalked up 20 years as the public face of SARTA, Shearer says he has no plans on retiring yet.

Over the past 20 years, SARTA has grown from an association run out of a small suburban house that had no parking space for trucks to a larger premise in Regency Park. It has also grown from 38 members to some 450 associates.

In the broader transport and logistics space, others officially recognised in the Honours List include TasPorts chairman Dr Dan Norton, who gained an AO (officer in the general division) for distinguished service to business and finance.

Moorebank Intermodal Company director and Infrastructure Partnerships Australia founder Chris Brown received an AM (Member) for significant service to the tourism, infrastructure and transport sectors through leadership roles, and to the community.

Former National Transport Commission chairman Greg Martin was awarded an AM for significant for significant service to transport, particularly through the development of policy and industry reform.

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