All of those people who are representing the trucking industry need to work together, pushing in the same direction and not just when there is a crisis. So it is good to hear the Australian Trucking Association Chair talking about working with its member associations and avoiding duplication in his speech to the ATA’s AGM this week. The increase in focusing on strategic projects is also good news for everyone in the industry.
As an industry we have recent experience of how effective we can be. We only need to remember the response when the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal came up with a badly calculated rates regime.
At that time everyone lobbying for truckies, from the big boys down to the small owner drivers were singing from the same hymn sheet. The message was simple and clear and all of the issues got plenty of traction.
The result was a swift reversal of a flawed policy and an element of stability for truck operators of all sizes. Those who might have benefitted from the RSRT did not work against the greater good and the trucking industry got its act together.
The atmosphere now is much less fraught than in those times around the RSRT, but the need to communicate a unified message is still just as important. There are big changes afoot and everyone will benefit from a strong co-ordinated approach from those representing trucking to State and Federal politicians and agencies. There are also large industry groups with other agendas pushing hard for policies which would severely disadvantage trucking.
Most representative groups involved in trucking are also members of the ATA and David Smith’s rhetoric yesterday seems to imply a move to more consensus oriented process in the future.
Of course, there are going to be differences, they are inevitable, but we need to go beyond those problems and maximise the amount of things on which everyone can agree, both in terms of problems, but also solutions.
The major line-haul trucking businesses live in one world, while the rural livestock operators exist in another, the bulk haulage industry has much different priorities when compared to urban distribution operations.
There is also the added complications in the differences between states.There are some advantages for some operators in the differences in regulatory regimes between states (I’m looking at you WA).
There is bigger advantage for the trucking industry as a whole and the overall Australian economy, if the national regulation and enforcement is consistent. State and Federal Governments can be cornered into doing the right thing if the message is clear and forcefully put by everyone involved.
Is it possible for all of the industry to speak from one standpoint? Of course it is. The only thing needed is a bit of give and take, and some sound negotiations behind the scenes to come up with a coherent single position.