It looks like politics is drifting back to normal and everyone is preparing the ground for a post-Covid world. If this is the case the trucking industry needs to get out there and strike while the iron is hot.
Our industry should come out of this crisis, if we are coming out of it, with a few brownie points with both the public and the governments around Australia. When needed, the trucking industry has stepped up to the mark and made sure those wheels of the economy which were turning, continued to turn.
Concessions were given with the continuing freeze of the road user charge for another year. Now is the time where the point needs to be made about how iniquitous the road charging regime has been this century.
The basic principal has always been that the extra cost borne by the road owners of Australia, for wear and tear on the highways caused by the trucking industry, should be paid by the trucking industry. No-one is arguing with that. We weren’t to know that the bureaucracy would be unable to calculate that cost accurately.
This miscalculation led, over time, to the trucking industry paying way more into the coffers than it needed to fulfil its obligations. We are talking massive sums here and by simply freezing the charges again this year the government is simply adding insult to injury.
The powers that be need to be reminded of this wilful overcharging and harassed, at a time when they are trying to keep a positive profile. Pressure needs to be applied to a government which owes the trucking industry a lot, in more ways than one.
Also during the coronavirus time we had the importance of on highway services for truckies come into focus. If the people of Australia wanted their supermarket and bottle shop shelves to be brimming with fare, then the truckies delivering said goods had to be able to take a rest break, eat and take a shower.
The campaign to keep facilities open for truck drivers got plenty of traction and reinforced the need to maintaining the right sort of facilities on our highways to keep drivers healthy and safe.
At this point in time the politicians and government agencies appear to be aware that for the trucking industry to be safe it needs to have the right sort of facilities to enable drivers to rest, recuperate and stay hygienic all along the freight routes of Australia.
If they are accepting this principle now, will they still hold the same principle to be true in a year’s time? They certainly weren’t 12 months ago.
The trucking industry has been crying out for better and more regular rest areas and service stations across the country. The authorities identify fatigue to be a major issue and problem for road safety while presiding over the decline in the number of places for trucks to park up, where drivers can get access to proper facilities and food, at a time when the freight task is rising fast.
The connection between what was good two months ago, when they needed us to stop toilet paper shortages, and what Australia needs to reduce the road toll has to be explained forcefully to all governments while we have got their ears.
If we don’t hurry up and make these connections now and forcefully, the opportunity will be lost. Any delay will see the trucking industry drift from being an essential service, back behind its cloak of invisibility, and completely off the political agenda.