THE PORT city of Geelong hosted leaders from ports around the country this week for the Ports Australia Business and Operations Conference.

The biennial event, known to many as BizOps, kicked off at Rydges Geelong on Wednesday 13 September.

Ports Australia CEO Mike Gallacher welcomed delegates with an explanation of this year’s conference theme: the next wave.

“Many areas of the supply chain around the world collapsed; they couldn’t withstand the impact of that freak wave. Ports around this country stood up. The supply chain in this country stood up.

“It was tough; there was a lot of tough times in that interchange within our own various aspects of the supply chain, and the pressures that were on, but we stood up.”

Victorian minister for ports and freight Melissa Horne took the podium for an opening address, welcoming guests to Geelong and highlighting the role the local port plays in the economy.

Minister Melissa Horne. Abby Williams/DCN

She unpacked investment in rail connections to the port of Geelong to ensure Victoria’s commodities can flow through the port to reach global export markets.

“We truly believe rail is the efficiency to the sustainability of our port network,” Ms Horne said.

“Rail is really under-represented in the landside supply chain, and our government is investing strongly to correct that imbalance.

“We know that they key to longevity at any port and its social license to operate is dependent on sustainable landside connections.”

Ms Horne also touched on the emerging challenge of skill shortages in the port and freight sectors.

“As we look to fill these gaps, we need to think of new ways of getting people into the workforce who really would not traditionally have chosen a pathway in this industry,” she said.

“For example, we want more women to have the chance to enter the freight and logistics sector, and can I say, seeing the amount of women who are represented in this room is absolutely fantastic.”

The presentations and panels that followed were structured around issues and trends in safety, cybersecurity, data, technology, data and sustainable energy.

DCN will feature a full round up of the Ports Australia BizOps conference in its upcoming October magazine edition.