Dreaming of the grand final

Talking Turkey About Trucking

It’s like waking up on the morning after losing a grand final. Your team made it all of the way to the big day and then messed up, going down meekly to the opposition. There’s a blame game to be had, if you want to take it out on somebody, and then there’s just crying in your beer.


Then the next season comes around and everyone is intent on not making the same mistakes again, but still repeating the same kind of performance which got you to the grand final in the first place. Team morale needs to be rebuilt, brick by brick, until the team is up and running again to have another go.


The trucking industry is probably feeling a bit like the losing team at that grand final, this year. Year after year we held onto the idea one day there would be a national system of regulations for the trucking industry in Australia, our grand final win.


We had glimpses of a grand final, a good run in the early nineties when the National Road Transport Commission was young, and keen to get some points on the board. At the same time the fledgling Road Transport Forum (now the ATA) was kicking some goals with the federal government.


This period was followed by a number of years bumping around at the foot of the ladder with no hope of a grand final coming over the horizon. The fight was on to ensure no GST on diesel and to get a credible accreditation scheme up for trucking companies. A lot of energy was expended just on maintaining the status quo.


In more recent years, the global financial crisis would hit the trucking industry hard, with rocketing fuel prices and uncertain freight predictions. Luckily, for the trucking industry in some pretty tough times, help would rekindle hopes for that grand final, help from an unlikely source.


The Rudd/Gillard governments were not particular supporters of the trucking industry, but they were supporters of reducing state powers where they were obstructive. They had a crack at WHS, disability, hospitals and all of the different transport modes. Trucking actually got a clear view of the grand final at last.


We were to have a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and this was going to be the great saviour of rationality in road transport regulation. We were going to the grand final and everyone was going to have a great time.


Some time early last year, reality stepped back into the fray and the trucking industry could see that grand final victory slipping from its grasp. States reasserted their powers in some areas and seemed to sabotage some of the genuinely national reforms we had expected.


So here we are, the morning after. Now, we need to get stuck into the next season, the team is certainly good enough to make the grand final, many of the components are already in place. The NHVR is up and running, it has some genuinely national functions working as they should. The NHVR and NTC seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet and industry associations are getting traction in the state and national capitals


We just need to make a step by step plan. Small steps, one at a time. Take each game as it comes. Don’t think about the grand final, just think about next week’s game and how to win it. All this team needs is a rational, considered game plan, improved teamwork and a return to that elusive winning mentality. If we can do this then the grand final will be ours! (Not applicable in WA)