Victoria’s trucking industry and the Victorian Transport Association as its representative has issues with the lack of education for local councils. There are 73 councils in Victoria many of whom are not geared up to dealing with access enquiries on last mile issues. Many have limited transport expertise.
“They are making decisions affecting our industry from an uneducated position,” says Peter Anderson, VTA CEO. “They are trying to do a good job, but they don’t necessarily have the resource to do the best job they can. The industry then has to try and move around what they do, and compensate.
“A good example of what is happening is in the inner west of Melbourne. People in Yarraville and Marybynong don’t want heavy vehicles driving down their streets. They are main streets, we are not talking about little alleyways.
“Unfortunately, within three kilometres of them is the port, which moves up to 8,000 containers a day. We can’t move the port, so we can’t restrict access to the industry, to do the job they’re there to do. They are saying, ‘We want to shut you down, because we don’t like you driving through our municipality’.”
The port still needs to be serviced. The answer can’t be to stop ships from coming to Melbourne. Exclusion for the industry may end up with companies making commercial decisions not to send ships into the port. These issues would have a major effect throughout the supply chain.
“They are planning a tunnel and a route into the port,” says Anderson. “The only issue we have is, it will be the only route. If you have to pay for it, $15 a time. Can I have a discount on my taxes? Because I’m paying for roads already and then I’m not allowed to use those roads and I have to use one I have to pay for.
“It might be OK if the transport companies could pass the costs on to their customers. They wouldn’t accept a toll levy. Some businesses here are already paying over $1 million a year on tolls.”
In the North-East of Melbourne the authorities have put a curfew on trucks at night on five of the north/south arterial roads. Trucks travelling down from Sydney, 3000 a night in all, have to skirt the city to the West even if they are heading for the East of the Melbourne region.
In fact, in one area there are two pressure groups. One wants trucks off the roads at night and another is wanting them off the roads in the daytime. Congestion on those roads in the daytime has increased due to the curfew. Fines currently sit at $300 for breaking the curfew.
“When they did this kind of thing in London, fifteen years ago they took freight into account, they understood supply chain,” says Anderson. “If you start to shut down the networks, the whole supply chain system breaks down, unless you have an alternative plan.
“One of my big issues is the lack vision and leadership, when it comes to planning infrastructure development. I think this particular government might get around to coming up with a solution, but they get caught up too much in their marginal interests, voting cycles. This is where we need broader based plans and perspectives.
“We have got to follow through. The bigger the plan, the better. I was hoping Infrastructure Australia would deliver, but it is not going to. It will rubber stamp, but won’t make things happen.”
The general public who are driving these restrictions are looking at the trucking industry and not liking what they see. Anderson and the VTA see this as an issue caused by a lack of understanding of the industry, its make up and its value to the community.