There was a breath of fresh air with trucking mounting a rational argument on ABC Radio this week. It makes a pleasant change to hear sensible truckie voices being able to discuss the industry’s issues openly with a presenter who was able to empathise with trucking folk.
The two representatives of the trucking industry, Rod Hannifey and Sharon Middleton, were able to expand on the issues at hand and show a great deal of knowledge, and were given the opportunity to expand on these issues and go into the nuances of what is going on.
This is a complete contrast to the previous discussion on the same show, Nightlife with Philip Clark, which took place during the controversial period earlier this year when a number of truck related accidents led to a number of deaths, stirring up plenty of anti-truck rhetoric.
The Nightlife episode simply served top stir up more issues and left the listener less well-informed after the one hour chat than they would have been at the beginning. The presenter was not well informed himself and the two guests, Geoff Crouch, Australian Trucking Association Chair and Tony Sheldon, Transport Workers Union National Secretary, were clearly not briefed about what they were going to talk about.
This time around the speakers were all clearly briefed about the topics at hand and able to bring some real information and insights to the table. Even the most vehement anti-truckie listener would have had to admit to the speakers coming across as well informed and reasonable.
This means the trucking industry has had two opportunities this year to get its point across in a rational forum on ABC radio this year and one proved to be unhelpful at best. It’s a good job the second one came across so much better and the speakers were able to get their point across on a number of different subjects.
One thing which is a real shame is the fact we get so few opportunities to put our point across. Road transport does represent around ten per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product, but hardly ever appears in the media, unless there’s some really bad news.
There are so many topics to discuss, and ones which affect other members of the community, as well as the trucking community. These are left undiscussed and ignored by the politicians who get their agenda from focus groups and talkback radio. Trucking never gets a look in.
Where is the real discussion about the totally inadequate provision of rest areas on all of the highways of Australia? There are none which any of the major topics like providing adequate and safe areas for all road users to get off the road and rest. The consequence is the parking bays are full and conflict occurs between the grey nomad population and the truckies, as well as between truck drivers and car users. No solution will be forthcoming without this topic rising up the national agenda.
The provision of other services got a run on Nightlife this week and the presenter, Philip Clark, admitted surprise when Rod informed him there are only two supermarkets he can access with his B-double when he drives between Brisbane and Melbourne. This is common knowledge to those in the trucking industry but completely unknown outside of it. No other community would put up with having such limited access to the things it wants and needs.
These are just two of the ongoing issues which plague life on the road for the vital workers in our industry. When are we going to get some kind of opportunity to extend the rest of society’s knowledge on these problems which will affect them either directly or indirectly on a regular basis?
We have people who are capable of mounting a rational argument, but we need to find a way to get the message out there.