Trucking takes plenty of disparaging and deprecating comment from many quarters and people working in the industry are constantly reminded just how low their status is in Australian society. However, this week started out with the humble truckie being taken to a new low, being compared to a child molesting Catholic priest.
In talking to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Cardinal Pell came out with some outrageous slurs on the truckie. He was using the relationship between a truck driver and the truck owner as a comparable one to the relationship between himself, as a leader in the Catholic Church, and priests responsible for abusing children.
Not only is this preposterous, but also reinforcing the negative attitude truck drivers meet in many areas of their lives. The horrific stories coming out of the Catholic Church and its inaction when confronted with the facts of child abuse are, rightly, high on the agenda for Australia. However, the issue, along with Pell’s appalling analogy is not the main concern of Diesel News.
Our concern is, however, for the standing of the trucking community in the wider community. The news here is not good. A lone voice, that of ATA Chair Noelene Watson was the only one reacting to the slur from the truckie’s point of view. The rest of the mountain of criticism heaped on Pell was from the point of view of the anti-abuse campaigners.
The incident does illustrate a symptom of a long term problem, which the trucking industry has consistently failed to grapple with satisfactorily. The general public have a very low opinion of those working in trucking and the media reflect this, in the way news about trucks and trucking is reported.
If there is any news or comment around trucking in the national media it is inevitably negative and demeaning. There is no good news coming out of the trucking game, apparently. A selection of the news stories going around this week include a Bossley Park man driving a seriously defective truck loaded with Barramundi and Acacia Ridge residents wanting the rego details of B-doubles breaking a truck curfew in Southern Brisbane.
We don’t help ourselves and the small but well meaning events organised for Truck Week next week are unlikely to change many hearts and minds. Yes, we should go out and support these well meant events, which serve to bring the community and trucking people together. However, if we want to make a real change in the way the industry is perceived by the wider community, we need to make sure our house is in order.
Cardinal Pell has a very low level of credibility because he refuses to accept the wrongdoing of a large number of Catholic priests. If we want to get more credibility than him, we need to publicly accept there are wrongdoers in our community. There are elements in the trucking community who bring shame on us all, naming and shaming them, bringing some deep long term problems out into the light, is the only way to change perceptions of the trucking industry.