When there is a lot going on, in the middle of a major crisis, the level of effort needed to keep things moving in the right direction gets higher and you can’t take your eye off the ball for a moment.
There is so much going on which is concurrent with the ongoing pandemic, that the trucking industry needs to redouble its efforts to get its message across in the best possible way.
The past couple of weeks has been one of those periods when it is difficult to simply keep things moving. The series of border closures and lockdowns, alongside unclear messaging, incorrect permits and Covid-safe procedures has everyone running from pillar to post.
At the same time there is also a series of longer term issues being played out, which are completely divorced from the coronavirus shenanigans. These separate processes are continuing through the pandemic unhindered by road blocks and permits, Zoom and Teams are the tools of their trade and there is no limit to their use throughout the nation.
A number of extremely important decisions are being made at the moment and if the trucking industry doesn’t make sure its voice is heard, the long term ramifications of decisions made this year are likely to not be ideal, to say the least.
Of course, we have the rewriting of the Heavy Vehicle National Law happening as we speak. Someone has to read every last word of the very long document which is up for discussion. Any changes will have effects on fatigue, mass, roadside enforcement, maintenance, performance based standards and much more.
Now we have the Freight Industry Reference Panel, which held its first meeting this week and set about discussing the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. This may not sound like something we need to be looking at right now, we have enough on our plate already.
We should be engaging with all of this right now. It will be laying out a freight strategy for the next twenty years. The panel is looking for a ‘holistic, cross-network, multi-modal view’ about how to take freight transport forward.
There will be plenty of input into all of these discussions about our future. However, the trucking industry has to be aware that there are plenty of other interests who will be putting there two pennies worth in on these topics, and they will not have the best interests of the trucking industry as their focus.
Many of the other interested parties are going to have teams working on developing submissions to advance their interests in the upcoming deliberations. The large rail companies, the shipping operators, large logistics giants and state and territory authorities all have the capability to put together substantial submissions in a language those deliberating on the future will understand.
As a disparate industry, with widely different sectors and a massive number of small to medium enterprises doing a lot of the heavy lifting, trucking will need to be on its toes to get its message across on equal terms with the big boys.
This is where the industry associations come in and perform such a vital role in getting our message across. The only way this works is if the we all make sure we communicate up through the system. Every trucking operation has needs which can be addressed by a better future environment for trucks.
The only way to get a satisfactory outcome and not one which only suits the big boys, is to engage, and engage now. You may not have the time to read the volumes of paperwork being generated but you can talk to your representative industry association about your needs and emphasise the need for a united front from all of those representing our interests. Sometime in 2021 will be too late.