The way local government works for the trucking industry and its need for a good shaking up was on my mind this week as I was getting shaken up on the road, behind the wheel of a truck. The road in question was the Bucketts Way in New South Wales and the decades of neglect is writ large by the patchwork of different coloured bitumen across the road for long stretches of this undulating road in rural NSW.
Very little has been spent on this stretch for a long time and businesses along the route are being poorly served by their local authority. If I was delivering in this area, I would be charging a premium in order to compensate for the extra maintenance required for trucks servicing these customers.
As I was holding onto the steering wheel extremely tightly and deciding to make an appointment with the dentist, as my fillings loosened, I realised this experience was symbolic of the relationship between the trucking industry and government at a local level.
In saying this I am not having a go at any particular local government. They are not the problem, the system is the problem. These shire councils are neglected by the system, and it shows in their roads.
They have little political power and no resources to lobby for funding or influence. They are feeding on the crumbs left over after the big boys in the cities and state and federal governments have had their share.
These local authorities are under funded, but not under regulated. They have responsibilities which they are supposed to fulfil, but adequate funding to get the job done is not forthcoming.
As a result we have hundreds of examples all over Australia just like that in Taree, with a smooth you beaut four lane passing through, but 100 metres after turning off it, truck drivers are confronted with a pot-holed goat track.
The local government in this instance has an obligation to provide safe and adequate road infrastructure, and should aspire to improving it to encourage investment in the region. There is also a need to have well funded and competent road engineers, plus crews on the ground to make the road better.
Trucking operators all over Australia are getting shaken up on the road and banging their heads against a brick wall to get improved roads and better access to improve productivity, working with an under-funded, under-staffed bureaucracy, which knows what it should be doing, but can’t because of an outdated funding model and a lack of care being taken at both state and federal level by those who could shake things up a bit.