“When I first approached the ATA team about them creating a report on the trucking industry, I stressed that I wanted it to be positive, which might sound strange considering I’ve called the conditions facing the industry as ‘the perfect storm’.”
David Smith, Australian Trucking Association Chair says that he stands by the ‘perfect storm’ description. We have a combination of age-old issues such as access combined with the global pandemic, natural disasters and supply chain shortages.
The cost of doing business seems to rise every month and it’s not going away any time soon.
Then there are the long-term challenges. Skills and driver shortages. Inadequate roads and a broken system for funding this vital infrastructure.
There’s a complete lack of rest areas and proper facilities. We need greater ambition for improving safety and boosting productivity. Despite years of workshops and meetings from never-ending reviews, we still have broken national truck laws.
And now, just over the horizon is a future of great transition, with zero emission vehicles and automation fast becoming a reality. On top of all of this, we have to keep the economy moving.
These are all very challenging issues but you’ll note I asked for the ATA report to be positive. And I still believe it’s the right call. You see, there’s a positive story to tell about the trucking industry and it’s important we show the light as well as the shade.
And so the ATA has created ‘Trucking Australia – the Report’ which is a snapshot of trucking today and into the future. One of the most positive things about trucking is our ability to work together. We are great at putting differences aside and pulling in the same direction. The report reminds us that it has been the work of state and sector trucking associations, the ATA’s members, which have stood up and fought for the industry.
Our member associations were critical to working through some of the major challenges with the pandemic, such as state border closures. They’ve also secured key wins for industry, including funding critical roads, rest areas and effluent disposal sites. The report also sets out the key issues and long-term challenges that the ATA is addressing, together with our members.
This includes fixing the national truck laws, where the ATA will now expand our national Road Transport Act proposal into a chamber-ready bill which can be introduced into the Federal Parliament. We highlight that if Australia fails to achieve vision zero on road safety, it will be one of the most significant failures of public policy.
Governments must also implement minimum rest area standards, and mandatory road service level standards to guide road funding decisions to where that investment is most in need. There is also a pressing need for national reform of road user charges, and development of a national transport workforce strategy.
We must also enable the opportunities that will come from future and emerging technologies. We face a future of great transition , trends of decarbonisation and automation are coming, even if they might feel disconnected from our day-to-day challenges. But these transitions will reshape our industry.
Future transition and technology do not wait and getting them wrong can leave once successful businesses as a footnote to history. There’s no point putting our collective heads in the sand. None of this is going away so we’re best off trying to understand and embrace the opportunities.
But we have now arrived at a pivotal moment. A watershed. A time when the burden of the last few years, the unresolved long-term challenges, and the beginning of significant future transition, have all arrived at once.
How can the industry possibly navigate this challenge, and find its way to a better future? To secure the future of our industry, we must face this moment together.