The ATA  has announced it has appointed Michael Deegan as its  new CEO, following the departure of former boss Andrew McKellar, who resigned and left the Trucking organisation on the 6th August after  just six months in the job.

However Deegan doesn’t comes to the new role without some controversy in his immediate past.

Deegan was the CEO of  Sydney’s Inner West Council until October 2020, with his sudden departure from that organisation coming after a reported tense relationship between him and Mayor Darcy Byrn.

A former Labor staffer,  Deegan joined the  then newly merged council in 2019  but a report by the South Australian Ombudsman  shortly after he joined  the Council, citing misconduct findings during  his role as the chief executive of SA’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure apparently caused a rift with the mayor and created the difficult environment at the Council.

According to the SA Ombudsman’s report, Deegan had ‘not made efforts to disclose conflict of interest when he signed off on a freedom of information decision, that withheld details of invoices and bills of expenses incurred by Mr Deegan’.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald last year, quoting an anonymous council source,  said the disorder and lack of transparency surrounding Mr Deegan’s departure from the Council was damaging its reputation.

However with a 40 year career in the public service  in a variety of roles, Deegan clearly gained the confidence of the ATA, and should prove a valuable voice for the organisation, particularly in its lobbying government organisations on road transport.

The ATA has long been the most effective industry body in terms of communicating the views of Australia’s truck operators and freight organisations to the government and  the general public.

ATA chair David Smith welcomed Michael Deegan as the new CEO who has been involved in road freight transport policy for more than 20 years.

Deegan’s previous senior roles include being chair of the National Transport Commission,  working with the National Infrastructure Coordinator at Infrastructure Australia and  as CEO of the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.

According to the ATA announcement, Deegan’s involvement with trucking began working in the mines driving heavy vehicles and has evolved to include an instrumental role in the establishment of PBS and vast experience with heavy vehicle charging policy.

“Michael is an expert at developing and implementing visionary strategies, responsible for Australia’s first national transport plan and first national freight strategy,” ATA chair David Smith said.

“The ATA board believes Michael is the leader we need to push ahead with the extensive work the ATA and its members have done on our strategic plan,” he said.

As CEO, Mr Deegan will work with ATA members to refine and implement the plan, as well as improving member engagement and leading strategic lobbying activities.

“Michael will lead and implement our strategic direction and the projects we deliver, from the ATA’s role in the industry’s COVID-19 response through to infrastructure and productivity priorities,” Mr Smith said.