C&L, CICA, Cranes & Lifting

CICA President’s report: Navigating uncertain times with optimism

Crane hirers are bucking the trend and continue to be desensitised to the “doom and gloom” that COVID-19 has caused. Optimism abounds, as crane businesses put this year behind them and look to 2021 with renewed vigour. There’s plenty to look forward to.

I must admit. This year I have struggled to find that spring in my step.  That natural energy that usually throws me out of bed before sunrise ready to tackle anything and everything in front of me.  It’s not just me, I’ve spoken to plenty of people this year who have felt the weight of uncertainty trying to pull them down, but it’s our resilience and ability to adapt which has put us in strong market positions in the first place. As the year passes by, uncertainty is replaced with optimism.  I am noticing crane hirers are becoming desensitised to the “doom and gloom” that COVID -19 has caused and replacing it with a more optimistic view.  And why wouldn’t we?  That’s what we’ve always done.  That’s why we have the businesses we have; and that’s why we will put the COVID-19 year behind us and push on with it in the future.   

All of our year 2020 interactions have been more virtual than ever  before.  At CICA, we have had to adapt our connectivity with our members.  During a normal year, we would have many opportunities to meet in person and discuss our industry issues either through the NRG, Branch Meetings, or the National Conference.  This year, we have used a diverse range of communication interfaces including the Cranes and Lifting Magazine. I’m sure you noticed the “Crane 2020 Showcase” in our previous September/October edition, as we have received plenty of positive feedback.  Further, we have the new ‘Lift of the Month’ feature being launched which is also a welcome addition.  We are all crane people at heart and enjoy seeing our peers demonstrating the depth of planning and professional execution of crane lifts our industry delivers.  The ‘Lift of the Month’ is a precursor to the ‘Lift of the Year’ awards, a highlight of the CICA Conference sorely missed this year that we can look forward to when we meet again next year in Perth.

During October we held the CICA AGM and Board elections as planned, albeit in a different online format this year. I am pleased to welcome Danny Adair to the CICA board as a newly elected director. Also, I would like to congratulate the re-election of Danny Black and Bart Sutherland for a further two-year term. Ben Pieyre has been successfully elected by the membership after having previously been appointed as a director by the board. The newly filled elected positions on the CICA Board are due to the vacancies created by John Gillespie and Geoff Bevan who had both chosen not to renominate. I thank these volunteers who all demonstrate their heart for the industry and work to provide strategic direction for CICA to support our industry and members. I also thank our outgoing Board Members; your service and insights have been invaluable and very much appreciated. As I said in the last issue, we will recognise John Gillespie’s achievements and service to CICA more formally at the next CICA Conference. I am also very thankful for Geoff Bevan’s contribution having served on the board for the past 6 years as both a director and vice president for two of those years.

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Take a moment to flick back to the front cover of this edition. If you haven’t noticed, the cover features the Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and Two Way Cranes founder and co-owner, Frank Zammit. This is a particularly important photo that highlights the Federal and various State Government’s recognition that local manufacturing and infrastructure projects are going to create jobs and provide a boost for the Australian economy. The Federal Budget announcements are an essential support for business, through their announcements in infrastructure projects and tax incentives, they are encouraging us and providing us with much needed confidence to invest. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned best laid plans on their head, but we need to get on, adjust and shift our focus to local jobs, local manufacturing, and upskilling local people. Our industry is known for getting the job done, and if governments are willing to put in the dollars, the only industry limiting factors for us will be the availability of skilled labour and accessibility to road networks, two key areas CICA has spent many years advocating and lobbying for improvement in.

To that end, Western Australia are making great strides toward having the first Crane Apprenticeship up and running; given the economic development and training priorities underway, they are now working toward a three-year apprenticeship to be approved and implemented for a 2021 commencement. Well done Anthony, Allan, Ben and the rest of the W.A. team for all the work you have invested into making this a reality.

In respect to future-proofing road access, look out for the article in this edition that demonstrates collaboration and improving road access in Tasmania.  Simon Buxton and his team of road managers have worked collaboratively with mobile crane operators, CICA and the NHVR to produce a system of access for the Special Purpose Vehicle industry, that is workable and facilitates progress. I recall travelling to Tasmania up to six years ago and meeting with Simon and his department. He and his team have always been solutions driven and willing to communicate openly with us to find a workable solution for our members.  We hope that this system is taken up by other States on the Eastern Seaboard.

This issue also includes a tribute to the late Rob Way, a fine man who like Bob Parker, is considered one of the founding fathers of CICA. Please take the time to read this tribute to Rob, he was always such a likeable and insightful man to catch up with for a chat, and our association is forever indebted to him for his contributions.

This is the last issue for 2020. While it has been a disruptive, interesting, and difficult year all rolled into one, it has also been a time to reflect, regroup and grow. I hope you and your families have a safe year end and look forward to new beginnings, achievements, the ability to personally reconnect and, of course, a CICA Conference in 2021, which will certainly be one to remember.

Tom Smith

CICA president

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