This week we have heard a lot about budgetary changes and incentives supposed to improve the lot of the trucking industry, but this still leaves the very large elephant in the room: productivity, productivity, productivity.
There are a couple of basic things we need to have in place to improve the way trucking works as a vital cog in the economy and a driver of economic growth. These are all centred around productivity. We need to shift a lot of freight over some very long distances at the lowest possible cost. We need this high productivity to compete globally.
There is a lot of money being thrown at infrastructure this week (although most of it was already programmed in and is not particularly new). Even a cursory glance at the state of our road infrastructure will show anyone that there is a lot of improvement needed on that front.
So, we end up with some really good highways to get freight from A to B, does that improve productivity? Not really. The only improvement would be a better truck maintenance outcome with fewer components being shaken off the truck and trailer by the terrible road surface.
This may sound facile but I saw a demonstration of just how bad things can be for the trucking industry, when I witnesses the terrible condition of the Bucketts Way, East of Taree in NSW, recently. The road is in such bad condition and so poorly maintained, that trucks have to avoid using it, if at all possible. I think I can blame a short trip along the road in a truck for the latest loose filling in my teeth. Thanks Mid-Coast Council.
So, of course we have to get the road condition up to a reasonable spec, but the important item on the trucking industry’s shopping list is access for higher productivity trucks. A road may be a little straighter and have some safer intersections and fewer potholes, but if the local authority still doesn’t like A-doubles in its region, there will be zero productivity gain.
Very little has been done to improve the way trucks which increase productivity and reduce overall emissions get onto our roads. The whole access issue is bogged down in the mire created by too many layers of government and a total neglect of local authorities in terms of funding and developing skills.
This is where we need to throw our money, at making it possible for an operator to come up with a higher productivity solution and make a proposal to use it over a route. Then when the proposal is put forward, someone, who knows what they are doing, makes a rational assessment of the idea. If the task is feasible, the road managers let the truck onto the road, or make improvement to make it possible.
Is this going to happen any time soon? Did Josh have any money in the budget to make something like this happen? No.