There is no doubt Truckweek is a great idea and worth supporting as best you can. Anything which improves the profile of the trucking industry and paints it in a positive light has to be good for all of us involved in the transport.
From its beginnings in the early nineties, it was all about the genuine enthusiasts getting out on the street and showing their community what a great industry trucking is and how the vast majority involved are good responsible citizens. It was a chance to show off an industry which seems to be invisible to the general public.
Despite thousands of trucks on every road in the country at all times of the day and night, no-one seems to notice. That is, until something goes wrong. The only time anything truck related seems to make it into the consciousness of Joe Public is when a truck tips over on their local roundabout or they feel intimidated by a B-double overtaking them on a freeway.
This cloak of invisibility we all seem to work under is going to be difficult to shift. It may have been useful for Harry Potter at Hogwarts, but not being seen most of the time is a distinct disadvantage for the trucking industry.
Road transport needs to be seen as it delivers all of the goods at the back door of Coles and Woolworths in your local shopping centre. The lowly banana has made a massive voyage from the paddock to the packing shed, out of the tropics in a truck, into specialist warehousing and then out again on the trip to the local supermarket.
We need to be visible making the wheels of industry turn, ensuring the coke arrives at the steelworks and the resulting steel arrives at the site where the general public’s home is getting built. The timber used in the same build has been dragged out of forests on trucks, down to the sawmill. The finished timber has made its way to the other end of the country on the back of another truck, before getting unloaded on site.
The Australian economy depends on goods entering and leaving the country. Road transport is a vital link in getting minerals and what manufactured goods we do make onto ships or planes and out of the country. We also pulls containers full of fridges and mountain bikes out of the ports and into the retail system.
It should be our task to show the people of Australia how vitally every aspect of their lives are intertwined deeply with trucks and trucking. If we don’t they will continue to be of the opinion their children should not go into the transport industry because it is a low status dirty job done by slobs in blue singlets and thongs.
The whole idea of Truckweek was borne out of a crisis. At the time, the industry was on the brink of being hit with unfair draconian legislation and being the government’s whipping boy when it came to road safety. Horrendous accidents and a slipshod attitude to safety were an issue and truckies had to return to public favour or be legislated out of existence.
Now, we are in another crisis. The population working in road transport is ageing fast, very few young people would ever consider working in trucking. At the same time suburban communities in the big cities want trucks off their streets.
Couple this with a freight task which keeps on rising at a multiple of economic growth. Yes, higher productivity may solve some issues,but it cannot solve them all. We need the person on the street to love us and appreciate we make their lifestyle possible, by making sure what they want is where they want, when they want it. All we have to do is tell them about it!