There has to be a suspicion that there is some sheer bloody mindedness going on in the corridors of power, the question is where? The problem is the trucking industry has probably got so used to be treated like a second, or even third class citizen that we think it’s normal.
When it comes round to time when government spending either at federal or state level is being divvied up and doled out, the truckie is one of the last on the list, if they are on the list at all. The priorities and needs of the industry which constitutes close to ten per cent of GDP in Australia are completely overlooked.
When priorities are being set on how to improve the way industry works and to incentivise smart new thinking to bring our economy back to the forefront of growth, no-one looks at how the trucking industry could be helped, even though high levels of productivity in the freight task boosts economic growth for every other industry.
When heartfelt poetic words eulogise about the iconic sectors which make Australia the country it is today, no-one mentions the truckie, not once. Apparently, Australia rode to wealth on the sheep’s back and is now driven by a resources boom. How did that wool get from the farm to the port? How does millions of tonnes of iron ore makes it merry way from a hole in the ground in the Pilbara to the ships waiting off the North West Coast?
I know the trucking industry is not the most romantic of industries and we do not help our image by the way we present ourselves in the big cities. The sheer size of the large vehicles we run with on the roads and have to share with other less able drivers, can be intimidating.
Okay, so we aren’t good looking and easy to live with, but we do provide impetus to a growing economy and make a massive contribution to the quality of life in Australia. This is ignored when the priorities are set and the decisions to spend are made.
Instead, we wait outside the door of the room where the decisions are being made and take what little handouts we get.
The words which set me off on this consideration of the trucking industry knowing its place are those of Gary Mahon, the QTA CEO talking about the reform of the HVNL and how the industry should react. In the lead up to the truck show he started talking about the spending of ‘mega-gazillions’ of dollar on the roads from Melbourne to Sydney to Brisbane.
He points out that even though all of that money has been spent and those roads improved beyond recognition, there hasn’t been one improved concession for better access for more productive trucks over the whole route since the money started to be spent in the 1990s.
In fact, we have the ludicrous situation where lesser roads are taking thousands of trips by 30 metre long A-doubles, but no A-double is allowed to cross a state border. We all know which state’s border we are talking about, and where the bloody mindedness is most likely to be, don’t we? And I didn’t even mention the State of Origin result!