Industry mourns loss of two road transport identities

The Executive Council and Secretariat of the Victorian Transport Association extends its deepest condolences to family, friends and colleagues of Brian Hicks, a long-time VTA member and founder of Cobram-based Hicks Transport Group.

Hicks established his business in 1968 as an owner-operator in the small border town of Koyuga, carting hay for farmers in the district and steadily growing the business to service interstate destinations.

The business expanded in the early 1980s with the acquisition of new trucks and hiring of drivers, and the purchase of P. Pullar & Co Transport in Cobram, which resulted in Hicks Transport relocating to the Murray border town.

Today, Hicks Transport Group has over 60 vehicles servicing the agricultural sector and fruit growers in Melbourne, Cobram and surrounding districts, as well as interstate services between all major eastern seaboard cities and South Australia and cool-room and dry storage services.

Brian Hicks was a devoted family man having raised four children with his wife Lorna who, along with their son Leigh, died in tragic circumstances in 1993.

In its latest communique, the Australian Trucking Association also pays tribute to former ATA Deputy CEO Michael Apps, a good friend of many in the industry who sadly passed away on Boxing Day after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Apps, pictured below, joined the Australian Trucking Association as Government Relations Manager in 1994 as the organisation emerged and grew its resource strength from its early foundation years.

loss of Michael Apps

He played a key role and made great contributions in expanding and deepening the reach of the Association as it developed into a dynamic national advocate and contributor to the effective implementation of national trucking policy.

He developed a strong and effective presence around Parliament House in Canberra as the industry pursued fundamental and ultimately successful reform of industry taxes and charges and also changes to key day-to-day trucking industry regulations. Many industry colleagues met Apps during the ATA’s seminars that were run across Australia during the introduction of the GST and the important diesel fuel rebate scheme.

Apps brought a unique dynamism to his role managing to simultaneously engage in serious policy development implementation while leading an active and energetic life. He treated everyone equally and could mix and relate to all including drivers, Unions, CEO’s, and politicians through to the Prime Minister. He was not afraid to say it “as it was” when necessary whilst building important coalitions in the political sphere to support the pursuit of the industry’s reform agenda.

Many of his former ATA colleagues have highlighted how he used his own inimitable and perhaps “cheeky” but effective style to assist and get the best out of people wherever he went.

Words they have used to describe Apps include intelligent, articulate, talented, loyal and trustworthy. He has been accurately described as “a loveable larrikin who got under people’s guard and delivered his message in a way that all levels he dealt with could easily understand and not be offended”.

Apps left the ATA in 2002 to take up the CEO position at the Bus Industry Confederation where he continued since then to pursue a vibrant reform agenda for that sector. It was during this time that he met and married the love of his life, Madonna Woodhead.

“Michael was a highly successful, top quality and lovely bloke who will be sadly missed by his many bus and trucking industry friends and his massive contributions and friendships won’t be forgotten,” writes the ATA.

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