‘What’s in it for me?’
Governments are using a disproportionate number of obliging foot soldiers to bring truck owners and drivers to their knees. Ken Wilkie writes
THE NAME of Australia’s new national anthem: ‘What’s in it for me?’. Seventy-five odd years ago the nation was saved by the selfless sacrifice of those poor young men who suffered the horror and indignity of Kokoda. They were not on their own in their determination to put the country’s wellbeing before their own, and they were not on their own in their efforts to save our nation.
But their sacrifice was the more poignant thanks to the physical environment they operated in. It was more poignant because of their age and an absence of real training for the situation they had to confront. Their sacrifice was more poignant because their leaders had the selfish, ignorant stupidity to suggest that their effort and outcome was aggravated by their lack of courage and determination. That’s self- centred leadership.
Seventy- something years ago our leadership was the weak link in our national efforts. What has changed? Only the degree, I suggest.
Back then, the percentage of numbers of leaders in relation to rank and file was a fraction of what it is today. Beyond the workplace health and safety industry, the only other growth industry in this nation is bureaucracy. We have no manufacturing industry thanks to the ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality that has made industry in the nation non- competitive.
Politicians pander to bureaucrats. Big business panders to bureaucrats. Or is big business just bureaucracy not in the government employ?
The third next growth industry is unemployment. The first two growth industries are largely responsible for the third. To that end, the first two growth industries are ably supported by the ‘what’s in it for me’ syndrome that has become the leading national fashion stakes.
The National Transport Commission ( NTC) advocates performance- based standards – which is making small business largely non- competitive, making the playing field even less level. The NTC advocates driverless trucks – unashamedly a scheme to deny employment to lower ranks.
With the government making social support less supportive, are we heading to anti- social behaviour driven by a jealous distrust of the elite?
In total, all this adds up to a dishonest and uncaring society. A basic element to a fair and honest society, that indefinable attribute called decency, is largely out the window. Without a sense of decency we get disgusting outcomes such as ‘Baked Beans John’. In a fit of impetuous annoyance, John removed a food- contaminated page from his log book – $5512.
‘Baked Beans John’ came into being through an accident compounded by his ignorance in appreciating how ruthless, corrupt and uncaring the leadership of this nation can be.
Owing to the accident that involved the spilling of baked beans on the sacred lie book, John has had to fork out over $5500. That amount of money is probably worth three or four times to John than what the bureaucrat gets who designed the so- called fatigue legislation.
That fatigue legislation is corrupt because it is based on assumption. It is a tool used by bureaucracy to denigrate the grassroots of the industry. It is based on the need of bureaucracy to shore up its inflated salary.
It is corrupt because, to date, no detailed study has been undertaken to determine the real cause of heavy vehicle accidents. It is allowed to be such because employers and industry management do not have the decency to see past their ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality. It is corrupt because the NTC is so keen for the current situation to continue that it refuses, point blank, to publicly advocate proper unbiased examination of each and every truck accident to determine real cause.
TURNING THE SCREW
The NTC seems more concerned about how truck drivers can be made a thing of the past by utilising driverless technology. To this end, they are riding on the coattails of bureaucracy who devise unworkable fatigue legislation. Are they in collusion or just one and the same?
The legislation is used by enforcement people to paint this industry’s grassroot operators as irresponsible and incompetent.
The ‘Baked Beans John’ saga is one piece of the tool, one turn of the spanner.
I haven’t yet had an opportunity to ask for a review of a breach that has not involved the breached having the minimum or plus required rest overnight. In other words; not one of the accused was fatigued and, because they had taken in excess of their prescribed rest during night hours, they were much less vulnerable to unexpected fatigue impairment than a driver of a scheduled overnight operation.
Industry management has no answer – just the silence that is evidence that the standard is acceptable to it. And again, management is overly endowed with the ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality.
Bureaucracy is critical of John because he failed to consult a lawyer. John, and others, are of the mistaken belief that some shred of decency exists within the bureaucratic ranks.
My advice is along the lines of out of the frying pan and into the fire, which seems to be a case of giving authenticity to an immoral act.
Until enough people stand to have laws that have been designed after thorough study, there can be no other alternative.
Risk a mammoth fine or fork out almost as much for legal advice that might reduce the fine.
Don’t just ring a transport department for advice; they are staffed by bureaucrats. Operators have to make a judgement as to which is the least demoralising. A third action is to talk to your local politician and demand respectfully that they do what they were elected to do: govern for all Australians. Make them listen to the grassroots. Make politicians justify the appropriateness of legal parameters.
I’ll lay money on the vast majority of both bureaucracy and management fronting at the next Anzac Day memorial in all their pious glory.
Essentially, bureaucracy needs to undermine the credibility of this industry to justify its current existence. It is the basis of my call for truth in breach reporting.
Paul Retter of NTC fame brought the word ‘derogation’ to my attention in his National Transport Reform Implementation Report. These reforms are about consistent and easy-to-understand laws that help to improve national productivity and advance safety within our transport services.
To my way of thinking, Mr Retter has used a formal term to highlight the constant determination of most state bureaucracies to deny the implementation of one nation, one regulation.
George Orwell in Politics and the English Language was critical of imprecise, overblown, obfuscating language which muddies thinking and hides the truth. He claimed that the aim was to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.
The use of such language by bureaucracy in relation to truck operators is designed to imply the industry is untruthful and full of irresponsible people with an almost murderous disregard for the welfare of society.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s ( NHVR) Sal Petroccitto’s believes operators should demonstrate some degree of competency in business management before being allowed to enter the transport industry.
Before that issue is resolved and it becomes an NHVR consideration, my desire is that he and his team release current information on which states have derogated the hopes for national regulation, which regulations are the tools of this derogation. And I’m not just referring to Western Australia to the Northern Territory for not being part of NHVR.
I’d like to know which laws have been bastardised by which other states’ bureaucracies in the personal interests of those state bureaucrats. There can be no compromise on maintenance that is safety related.
But who is the idiot suggesting vehicles that have done a million kilometres are ‘clunkers’? It sounds like an agent for a new truck manufacturer. I wonder if the clown has any idea of how many takeoff and landing sequences the last airliner he travelled in undertook since it first went into service?
This issue demonstrates a lack of intelligence, knowledge and honesty of a whole host of people.
Again, the true picture will be revealed when society has the results of a meaningful study into heavy vehicle accidents.
“RISK A MAMMOTH FINE OR FORK OUT ALMOST AS MUCH FOR LEGAL ADVICE”