The ability of the Australian economy to be able to prepare for disaster has come into focus this week with the events playing out in Townsville. The discussion, in this particular case, is around when and at what flooding levels the floodgates should have been opened.
The problem occurred because the Townsville authorities did their due diligence and developed a plan of action for when a once in a century extreme weather event happened. The hydrologists and other experts came up with a plan to minimise the damage to the houses of Townsville.
There was only one problem, it wasn’t a once in 100 years event, it was a once in 1,000 years event and the emergency plan was overwhelmed, as were many houses in suburban Townsville.
This is just one in a number of events which suggest we are moving into a new paradigm and need to plan accordingly. It does not matter whether you are a climate change denier or not, the number of extreme weather events occurring is increasing year-on-year.
It will be vital to prepare for further events of this kind, as they could have a wider effect of limiting economic growth as the infrastructure struggles to cope with an increasingly unpredictable climate.
This should be a legitimate and urgent concern for the trucking industry. We are in the logistics business and unprecedented climate events can have a devastating effect on logistics and, consequently, the wider economy. A depressed economy means less freight is moved, leading to a depressed trucking industry.
It is very easy for the trucking community to concentrate on the concerns directly affecting our operations. Perhaps it is now time to step up to the plate on an issue which does effect the wider community as a whole, but which could severely disrupt trucking business.
When it comes to getting a head of steam up to get the country prepared, unusual events will keep on occurring, but will any action be taken to better prepare for the likely disruption? As being better prepared will involve spending more money, any debate is likely to turn into a blame game between the major parties and another issue in the federal versus state funding argument.
While this is happening, more extreme weather is likely to cut off another region of Australia, or throw another rural region into an ongoing drought. No doubt, all of the stakeholders are going to be wringing their hands.
The trucking industry is a national industry with a large amount of common interest among its participants. It is also part of a larger logistics industry with similar interests, when it comes to concerns about climate disrupting freight transport.
Transport can stand apart from the petty political issues on this subject and help people to understand the implications for their daily lives of these unprecedented weather events. The industry can also run the numbers to demonstrate what kind of effect these disruptions will have on the wider economy.
Something like this may also have the effect of raising the profile of trucking, showing it’s a responsible member of society and looking out for the interests of all Australians. Just a thought.