Much fan­fare in the lead-up promised big things. Would the 2018 Aus­trala­sia Bus Con­fer­ence de­liver? ABC mag­a­zine – like hun­dreds and hun­dreds other del­e­gates – headed to Cairns, Queens­land, to find out.


The first-ever joint na­tional con­fer­ence be­tween Aus­tralia’s BIC and New Zealand’s BCA NZ held in Cairns was a mas­sive, mas­sive suc­cess. ANZAC spirt alive and well in mod­ern times? Bus wise, you betcha! Rugby? Nup! Fabian Cot­ter re­ports.

It was a mas­sive, mas­sive suc­cess! There’s no other way to put it, all things con­sid­ered, all bush beat­ing in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion put aside. The in­au­gu­ral 2018 joint an­nual Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion/ Bus and Coach As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand Con­fer­ence, held 7–10 Oc­to­ber, in bliss­fully sunny Cairns, Queens­land, Aus­tralia, was such a roar­ing suc­cess one would have thought they’d have ac­ci­den­tally left the safe con­fines of their cars walked straight out into the mid­dle of an African lion sa­fari – hold­ing big chunks of meat – that’s how ‘roar­ing’ it was. So to speak…

But se­ri­ously folks, with months of pro­mo­tion and pre- event cov­er­age for such a new gig, it was an un­pre­dictable en­tity in its early stages, from an out­sider’s point of view but, my oh my, did it de­liver the goods in the end. And then some.

Whilst it wasn’t the first ‘na­tional’ BIC Con­fer­ence ever to be held, it was the first to have its friendly bus peers from across New Zealand’s beau­ti­ful North and South is­lands to help jointly host such an epic event – and it showed.

From the huge num­bers of peo­ple that turned up to the con­fer­ence it­self – we hear about 750 (del­e­gates and their part­ners - of­ten for their first time at such an event - sundry or­gan­i­sa­tional staff from both as­so­ci­a­tions and the odd hap­less me­dia rep wan­der­ing about) – to those that braved the balmy night air to at­tend some amaz­ing night-time func­tions hosted by

Volvo, Daim­ler, Sca­nia and Iveco (and the ‘ Bussies Bar’ each night af­ter) and var­i­ous other lunches and teas breaks by a range of other spon­sors, it was just ‘all hap­pen­ing’, from a tra­di­tional Aus­tral­asian bus func­tion per­spec­tive.

The event fo­cused on dis­cussing fu­ture mo­bil­ity and what it means for bus busi­nesses.


Known as ‘Cen­tury 21 – Mov­ing Peo­ple’ the event fo­cused on dis­cussing fu­ture mo­bil­ity and what it means for bus busi­nesses. And with a range of key top­ics cov­ered and a host of em­i­nent key speak­ers con­vers­ing on a whole stack of in­ter­est­ing sub­jects there was pretty much some­thing for ev­ery­one over the four days it was held.

With the Pull­man Cairns In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel the main venue for the bulk of the con­fer­ence, reg­is­tra­tion and BIC an­nual meet­ings kicked off on the Sun­day, which was high­lighted by an amaz­ing Volvo Wel­come Cock­tail Party that night, just a short walk from the main ho­tel at Salt­house on the fore­shore.

With ev­ery­one there only truly not­ing just how many peo­ple had shown up for the con­fer­ence then, it set the tone and vibe for the gath­er­ing and got things off to a great start (we kick off the first of a few event pic­to­ri­als here, so keep read­ing and watch this space!).


Over the four days there was a lot to cover and, as stated, there were some pretty in­sight­ful speak­ers in­vited to the con­fer­ence to im­part their knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence into the mix across all sorts of top­ics.

Day one, Mon­day 8 Oc­to­ber and the BIC’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor

Michael Apps and chair­man Wayne Patch wel­comed del­e­gates, fol­lowed by the con­fer­ence open­ing proper and the first of the guest and key­note speak­ers tak­ing to the stage.

Well, kind of the stage at first. Join­ing us via video link at the start was Phil Twyford – New Zealand Min­is­ter for Trans­port, fol­lowed by Michael McCor­mack – Aus­tralia’s Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Fed­eral Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port.

With the part­ners pro­gramme now al­low­ing them to ‘get out of jail’ to go visit the var­i­ous sites and at­tractions, they were off!

Back in the main au­di­to­rium and lis­ten­ers were treated to an awe­some pre­sen­ta­tion by guest speaker Claire Mad­den, who is one of the na­tion’s lead­ing voices on all things Gen­er­a­tion Z. An author, so­cial re­searcher and me­dia com­men­ta­tor, Mad­den had peo­ple in stitches and gob­s­macked at times as they quickly came to re­alise how much life has changed – and how old they were – given the ins and outs of Gen-Zed­ders’ think­ing and be­hav­iour, par­tic­u­larly how this was ob­served in the mod­ern work­force. The ex­am­ple of kids so used to watch­ing ‘on- de­mand’ Net­flix now they couldn’t com­pre­hend wait­ing to go see a movie at, you know, the movies later that day. Wow! To most of us oldies, at least.

What fol­lowed was a host of cool speak­ers and sub­jects that we could sink our teeth and brains into.

Day One con­cluded with an amaz­ing night hosted by Mercedes-Benz called ‘Con­nect in the Trop­ics’. Day Two con­tin­ued the learn­ing, look­ing at things like the in­dus­trial and so­cial im­pacts of au­tonomous ve­hi­cles; step­ping to­wards MaaS (Mo­bil­ity as a Ser­vice), and what in­dus­trial re­la­tions will look like come 2025.

This all pre­ceded a well- rounded key­note ad­dress by An­thony Al­banese – Fed­eral Shadow Min­is­ter for Trans­port, In­fra­struc­ture, Cities, Re­gional De­vel­op­ment and Tourism.

Fol­low­ing that, we looked at case stud­ies in in­te­grated trans­port and growth area plan­ning, be­fore del­e­gates called it a day and prepped them­selves for a stun­ning din­ner party hosted by Sca­nia at the Tanks Art Cen­tre.

Day Three kicked off with a sus­tain­able trans­port fo­rum, be­fore ex­am­in­ing the les­sons and legacy from the 2018 Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games.

Yet the high­light for many that day was guest speaker Dr Jess Gal­lagher, who pur­sued her long-term goal of be­com­ing Aus­tralia’s first ath­lete to medal at a sum­mer and win­ter Par­a­lympics. The board di­rec­tor and global am­bas­sador for Vi­sion 2020 Aus­tralia, am­bas­sador for Dis­abled Win­ter­sport Aus­tralia

...such a ‘roar­ing’ suc­cess one would have thought they’d… walked straight out into the mid­dle of an African lion sa­fari.

and Vi­sion Aus­tralia/See­ing Eye Dogs Aus­tralia gave a bril­liant pre­sen­ta­tion.

Es­sen­tially con­clud­ing that day, peo­ple headed on over to the Iveco Bus Big Arvo Out and BIC Bus Auc­tion at the Cairns Cruise Liner Ter­mi­nal for an af­ter­noon for fun and shenani­gans that was a fit­ting end to a great few days of the 2018 Con­fer­ence.


Over­all, it was a pretty full- on con­fer­ence and def­i­nitely an eye- opener for all those del­e­gates and part­ners who had at­tended such a bus event for the first time ever.

From what we could tell and had heard, there’ll be plenty of re­turn vis­i­tors for next year’s event, which is to be held Novem­ber 17–20 in Can­berra.

From all ac­counts that prom­ises to be an­other fan­tas­tic event, too.

Be­low:Aus­tralia’s Deputy Prime Min­is­ter, Michael McCor­mack.

Left (L-R):Awards judg­ing, se­ri­ous busi­ness.

Above: Lis­ten­ing in­tently.

Be­low:The win­ners’ tro­phies. Op­po­site: Dr Jess Gal­lagher,

Op­po­site:The BIC Auc­tion Bus; ‘Talk­ing buses’.

Above: Claire Mad­den, giv­ing us the Gen Z low­down.

Be­low:Fed­eral Shadow Min­is­ter, An­thony Al­banese

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