Record turnout for Queensland’s big awards night


More than 450 people attended the Queensland Trucking Association’s annual Road Freight Industry Awards at the Royal International Convention Centre (RICC) in Brisbane on Saturday night (September 9).

A spectacular display of trucks and trailers were on display in the plaza of the RICC for guests to enjoy during pre-dinner drinks.

The feature was the Wickham Freight Lines Maxi-Cube B-double safety trailer promoting the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) striking One Barramundi, Two Barramundi, Three Barramundi livery. Also on show was the new Kenworth K220, Mack Super-Liner and Barnes Auto Co Heavy Haulage unit.

QTA president Paul Kahlert said the record number of guests was a reflection of the level of professionalism of the team at the QTA who leave no stone unturned to guarantee a memorable night that celebrates the industry.

The event attracted attendance from both the federal and state governments, including Senator Glenn Sterle from Western Australia and Queensland’s Transport Minister Mark Bailey.

QTA CEO Gary Mahon opened the evening by soft launching the new innovative heavy vehicle driver safety videos to instruct drivers on how to navigate the complex ascent and decent of Cunningham’s Gap, including managing the current roadworks occurring during the Cunningham’s Gap Reconstruction Project.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (South Coast) worked with the QTA to produce the videos and partnered with Wickham Freight Lines and Bill Manton who provided the driving instruction.

The videos will be released to the public in the coming weeks on the QTA YouTube Channel.

“This is a great example of government working in partnership with industry to produce a tangible practical and relevant outcome for heavy vehicle drivers,” Mahon said.

Mahon also spoke about what the QTA has contributed to the shaping of the new recently released Industrial Relations ‘Closing the Loop’ draft legislation and why the association has invested two years of advocacy into this reform.

The third area covered by Mahon was the need for the heavy vehicle driver apprenticeship in Queensland to be fully funded equal to other trades currently on the Skills Priority List.

“The need to create pathways for professional employment and attract new entrants to the industry is critical to sustain the road freight industry into the future,” he said.

The feature of the night was the presentation of the 2023 QTA Road Freight Industry Awards.

The winners were [with judging notes]:

Industry Excellence – Bill Manton

“When you meet him for the first time, he’ll introduce himself as ‘just a truckie’. With a long history as a truck driver and a career as a senior driver training and instructor, Bill has spent a large part of his career with Simon National Carriers and Volvo Australia. Despite his significant contributions, Bill humbly acknowledges that the transport industry has given him more than he could ever repay. Bill’s passion for the transport industry is unwavering, and his journey serves as a shining example of dedication, expertise, and commitment. He has actively spearheaded initiatives to enhance the transport landscape, such as advocating for improved parking bays, road upgrades and safety issues. His relentless dedication has dramatically improved the working conditions and safety standards for all involved in the industry. Bill Manton stands as a humble yet inspiring figure within the transport industry. His solid passion, integrity, and commitment to the betterment of the industry make him an exceptional winner of this award.”

Professional Driver of the Year  – Jay Reed from Harvey’s Towing Service

“Jay has been working for Harvey’s Towing for over 10 years and is a specialist in the heavy haulage towing sector. He demonstrates a high level of knowledge, competence and skilled experience. Jay has extensive knowledge in logistically difficult recovery services, safety, loading and unloading procedures, route planning and navigation, securing his loads, vehicle maintenance and flexibility to adapt to any environment he comes across. Jay is an asset to the industry and possesses a high degree of knowledge and experience in route optimisation, compliance and technology.”

Trucking Woman of the Year – Bronwen Howell from VE Group

“Bronwen’s journey in the trucking industry began in 2006 alongside her husband Nathan, when VE Group was established. As one of the visionary founders of VE Group, she has been instrumental in transforming the industry’s landscape. Over the years, VE Group has flourished with the guidance of Bronwen’s astute leadership. She has been instrumental in motivating and supporting the company’s growth and improving efficiencies and systems within the diversity of the company. Beyond her role at VE Group, Bronwen has been an active advocate for the trucking industry. Her dedication to community involvement and support and her drive to further improving the industry’s standards and reputation has earned her widespread respect and admiration among her peers and the wider community.”

Young Achiever – Stevie Ashley-Cooper from CKC Haulage

“Stevie is a pocket-rocket dynamo and there is nothing she can’t do in her job in the industry. Since leaving Ag college where she cleaned trucks to earn some money, she has been employed in the family business based in Townsville. Stevie is a determined young person who successfully progressed her heavy vehicle licences to achieve her MC licence at 20. She drives road trains, has her DG licence, forklift licence and experience carting all sort of freight including oversize machinery loads. On top of all of that, she also has the responsibility of being CKC Haulage’s Mackay depot manager. This talented young person one day aspires to take over the trucking business from Mum and Dad.”

Industry Safety and Innovation Award – Russell Transport and All Purpose Transport

“In this fast-paced industry, businesses are constantly under pressure to keep up with rapid technology changes, transition to low emissions vehicles, compliance requirements all the while ensuring their employees are kept safe.

The Industry Safety and Innovation Award recognises those businesses who are investing in initiatives in safety, innovation, environment, sustainability and well-being. Two Award Winners were announced for the 2023 QTA Industry Safety and Innovation Award this year.

Russell Transport was awarded the Safety Award for their CallB4 U Climb initiative is designed to reduce the risk of falls from heights by providing a process of communication between a driver or mechanic to ascertain the necessity to climb on a truck. Following a workplace incident, the CallBU Climb education campaign was designed by the safety committee. Delivered in short training bursts to achieve maximum uptake and engagement, any time a driver is required to climb on a truck, they call a supervisor to determine the need and troubleshoot alternative options. The success of the campaign has now seen it integrated into the Onboarding Training Process.

All Purpose Transport was presented with the Innovation Award for Project EV: Sparking the Last Mile – a zero emissions vehicle transition strategy.  The primary goal of this project is to explore, and implement, sustainable delivery methods for last-mile operations and significantly reduce emissions from delivery activities while ensuring that APT’s owner-driver business model remains intact during the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). APT was the first transport company in Queensland to commence new furniture home delivery services with an electric vehicle. At the end of July 2023 there were 10 vehicles operating in Brisbane. By the end of 2025 APT intends to have increased their EV fleet to over 30 vehicles operating around South-East Queensland.”

Training and Skilling Excellence Award – South East Queensland Hauliers

“In the current labour market, the importance of training and skilling is crucial to attracting and retaining staff. From changes to workplace flexibility since covid to adapting to different learning styles and diversity, employers are having to be innovative in this space and SEQH is excelling at this with its Road Master Program.”

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