Originally Published in Power Torque January/February 2024 Edition
As one year ends and another begins, it’s time to turn your mind to what our industry wants in the next twelve months.
Be warned: It’s a very long wish list and some of the items have been there for a very long time.
There is plenty of scope to meaningfully overhaul regulations without re-making law that needs to be taken through the Parliament.
The mapping and creation of a national online freight access system, for one, where the freight task is not reliant on excessive red tape and pre-approval is granted where it is safe.
An enforcement regime where the severity of the penalties handed out bears relation to the crime, and where truck drivers are treated with respect and courtesy.
Another thing most of us seem to agree we need is a practical mechanism for putting in place minimum operating standards.
The law the Federal Government has proposed still needs fine tuning in parts but isn’t a rerun of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which unfairly impacted small operators.
Giving the Fair Work Commission power to make orders will come with safeguards. Things like a year-long consultation process for each change, after direct input from industry experts, give cause for optimism.
Australia has suffered a long spell of natural disasters that did major damage, but long before that you could have made the case that funding for maintenance wasn’t keeping pace with demand.
The Grattan Institute put forward some viable ideas for extra funding and policy change in November, but our entire system of road user charging needs an overhaul.
The looming decarbonisation of our industry makes that a case of not if, but when. Some certainty is required on how our industry is going to tackle the challenges of net zero.
It’s not realistic to expect every operator to go out and buy new trucks powered by alternative fuels without incentives that will make the switch affordable.
That’s not a call for an industry hand-out, just a hand-up.
New regulations, achievable emissions standards and a roadmap showing us how we’re going to reach our destination.
The road transport needs enough drivers and diesel mechanics to solve our industry shortage.
It’s time that the Federal Government jumped ahead of its design of the immigration system and took positive action, but only after making sure we have a national accreditation standard in place, so imported drivers are competent to drive.
It would be a stop-gap measure, and there are underlying structural issues that need to change, but it’s essential if we’re to put our industry on a more viable footing.
The big wish, however, is that each, and every one of you and your loved ones have a safe and happy New Year.