How did we get here?

T&L has se­ri­ous is­sues for the fu­ture good but the na­tion is los­ing its grip

Australian Transport News - - Contents -

The freight transport in­dus­try has se­ri­ous is­sues for the fu­ture good but the na­tion is los­ing its grip

It’s said the late, great US po­lit­i­cal satirist Tom Lehrer, on the elec­tion of Ron­ald Re­gan as pres­i­dent, be­lieved he would have to give up his call­ing be­cause events were mak­ing him re­dun­dant. Now we have Don­ald Trump, it’s to be hoped Lehrer was cre­mated, lest a dis­rup­tor uses what’s in his grave to pro­pel trucks with­out the need for diesel.

Closer to home, Aus­tralian’s in­sis­tence that they have some of the fun­ni­est peo­ple in the world was proven yet again – and there wasn’t a pro­fes­sional co­me­dian in sight.

Plenty of state and fed­eral politi­cians and bankers. No pro­fes­sional co­me­di­ans. Pity the cast of Utopia. One episode of that com­edy se­ries saw Sitch’s char­ac­ter, Tony Wood­ford, a se­nior bu­reau­crat at the fic­tional Na­tion Build­ing Au­thor­ity, which looks af­ter in­fra­struc­ture cre­ation, ac­tu­ally bat­tling hard to en­sure port sell- offs would avoid harm­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

How they must have roared in Mac­quarie Street!

When your shtick, Sitch, is more se­ri­ous than the po­lit­i­cal and bu­reau­cratic re­al­ity, your show’s days must be num­bered.

Then came that high-profi le Kiwi Barnaby Joyce. . .

Utopia can’t com­pete with that. Joyce might yet have to de­part fed­eral Par­lia­ment, leav­ing the govern­ment short of a ma­jor­ity.

Af­ter his per­for­mance on the Mur­ray-Dar­ling wa­ter is­sue, that might be a good thing. It’s never pos­i­tive when the deputy prime min­is­ter makes light of dis­grace­ful be­hav­iour, be it wa­ter rustling or cat­tle duff­ing.

Yet, with his party fac­ing lead­er­ship desta­bil­i­sa­tion and govern­ment to be on a High Court knife- edge per­haps to the end of the year, In­fra­struc­ture and Transport Min­is­ter Darren Ch­ester is sup­posed to fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing a Na­tional Freight and Sup­ply Chain Strat­egy fit for pur­pose into the 2020s and be­yond.

If it ac­tu­ally is a se­ri­ous ef­fort, rather than just a way of look­ing busy, and if the bulk of it is fo­cused on map­ping out in minute de­tail how it is to be de­liv­ered than merely form­ing a list of empty prom­ises, there might be an oc­ca­sion for con­fi­dence in the process.

How­ever, given the glacial pace of freight transport re­form, let alone ne­glect of the in­dus­try’s pro­duc­tiv­ity in those ar­eas where govern­ment has con­trol, it’d be un­wise to hold one’s breath.

How can it be that govern­ment is still be­ing ad­vised to pro­tect strate­gic transport cor­ri­dors?

How long does it take to come up with a new form of heavy ve­hi­cle charg­ing and will it sur­face this decade, the next, the one af­ter?

What would it take to de­politi­cise transport in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing de­ci­sions?

And what have the rel­e­vant politi­cians and bu­reau­crats done with many thou­sands of words they have sought from the in­dus­try in the past 10 years alone?

We have writ­ten in the past about the quaint Amer­i­can cus­tom around Groundhog Day. The movie of the same name uses a time loop as a plot de­vice.

The na­tional strat­egy project smacks of that.

Is it too much to ask that it not be so?

“Pity the cast of Utopia”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.