Australia honours two of the safety heroes of our industry
This year’s Australia Day honours saw formal recognition of two men who have made large contributions to the safe operation of the fuel distribution industry in Australia, with Mr Ian Cootes (Victoria) and Mr Brian O’Connor (NSW) being appointed as members of the Order of Australia.
Mr Ian Cootes (founder of Cootes Transport in 1965) was awarded the Order of Australia (General Division) on 26 January 2016 for his substantial contribution to the fuel industry and the wider trucking industry.
While many of us would be well aware of Ian’s success in building one of Australia’s most successful fuel haulage businesses, his contribution to the wider trucking industry in Australia is perhaps less known.
During the 1990’s, Ian was a Director of the Australian Road Research Board and played a pivotal role in raising the safety standards for the transportation of dangerous goods – much of which can rightly be credited for the improved safety reputation of the fuel haulage industry in Australia today.
Ian’s other significant industry roles included President of the Australian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (ALPGA) and Director of the National Bulk Tanker Association.
Since selling Cootes Transport in 2001, Ian has turned his attention to charitable causes and is currently a Committee Member (and former Chairman) of the Alfred Foundation – which raises much needed funds to support medical research and the operations of the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
Brian O’Connor was also appointed member of the Order of Australia on Australia Day 2016 and his name is equally synonymous with the safety of the fuel transportation industry in Australia.
Brian co-founded the Canberra and Region Oil Industry Emergency Response Group (CROIERG) with Don Kirk. This group developed safety procedures that remain the hallmark of the modern response to fuel tanker accidents around Australia.
Brian’s substantial contribution to our industry has been instrumental in minimising the public risk and environmental damage arising from past fuel tanker crashes by ensuring that emergency response personnel were properly trained in how best to respond to these situations.
A resident of Yass – a rural town approximately 50 minute drive west of Canberra – Brian has also been a substantial contributor to the his local community.
He has previously served as a local councillor, was awarded Yass Citizen of the Year in 2009 and received a bravery award after rescuing a motorist who had driven into the Yass River in 1956.
“Both men have made invaluable contributions to the safe operation of fuel transportation in Australia and, on behalf of all ACAPMA members, the ACAPMA Board and the wider fuel haulage industry, we congratulate them on their most recent Australia Day awards”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.