The Western Roads Federation has been in existence for two years, coming into being after the WA Road Transport Association dissolved and there was no longer an employer body representing transport businesses. Craig Smith-Gander, Kwik Logistics owner, and three other transport operators put some money in to get it started and it made it a proprietary company in order to limit liabilities.
“We have grown the membership base, we have employed in executive officer and we’re now going through the process of turning ourselves back into an association,” says Craig. “We have an appropriate constitution and we are appointing directors and that sort of stuff. We saw a hole in the need for representation and the Western Roads Federation has gone from a position of nothing to a very strong position in the industry in a very short period of time.
“Our executive officer, Cam Dumesny, has been very effective in communicating with government, the Transport Workers Union and all of the other people involved with the sector. We are trying really hard with all of the different groups. We have to engage with people who are traditional transport operators, but also those who have very large exposure to transport through the vehicles they are running or the roads that they are using. We are trying to adopt a strategic approach to transport as opposed to just looking at what’s important to the bloke driving up and down the road.
“There are some bigger problems, which if they can be fixed, will benefit everyone on our roads. There is a particular rail focus for the state government at the moment. We have to convince them, as you do with all governments, that roads are worth investing in. Not just to reduce congestion in the morning and the afternoon peak hours.”
Craig reckons some industry associations are not looking at the problem in a strategic way and only concentrating on individual operators. He also asserts they are ignoring the global element of what trucking does for the economy, with an impact on economy which is substantial and occurs with no government support.
“We as an industry need to challenge ourselves to be able to have the right conversations with government and the people to understand the value we bring to their lives,” says Craig. “The WRF is trying to work in a partnership as opposed to working in an adversarial kind of way. By adopting that perspective we have achieved a very good hearing from government advisors, the bureaucrats and the government itself.”
One of the ongoing issues for Western Australia is the pressure from the Eastern States for the West to become involved with the Heavy Vehicle National Law and, therefore, come under the jurisdiction of the NHVR. Major issues like both fatigue and accreditation have been stumbling blocks in the past and will be in the future.
“I think there is a broad degree of ignorance on the East Coast of Australia about what Western Australia is and what it is all about,” says Craig. “To the point where people don’t even know the timezone over here. As a West Australian you just shake your head with the complete lack of understanding of what happens in a third of the country.
“That’s why the NHVR just doesn’t work in Western Australia, because it’s just about the Hume Highway and the Princes Highway, those sorts of routes. It’s not about somewhere where you can’t stop every two hours, because there is just nowhere to pull the truck over.
“However, the WRF is actively engaged in the process, alongside all the other state associations is engaging with the National Transport Commission as it goes through the program to reform the HVNLs.”