Smoke and mir­rors

Why is the gov­ern­ment seek­ing ad­vice from the un­qual­i­fied in­stead of those be­hind the wheel?

Owner Driver - - The Interstater -

YOU’D HAVE TO BE LIV­ING UN­DER A ROCK not to know that the ‘Safe Rates’ de­bate has raised its much-ma­ligned head once again. While the ma­jor­ity would rather see it dis­ap­pear along with their dig­nity, the ‘staunch’ haven’t given up on ed­u­cat­ing the piti­ful about what the in­dus­try, and this coun­try as a whole, has the po­ten­tial to gain from its suc­cess. Let’s start with that bit about the whole coun­try pros­per­ing from a safe rate, or let’s say a rate in­crease.

Ob­vi­ously (to most) it means more tax, and if there is one thing this coun­try needs, it’s more tax dol­lars. Once upon a time a rate rise would mean an in­crease in the cost of liv­ing, but that’s not quite so true any­more.

How’s that, you ask? Well, years ago, most things we carted were made by Aussies, but nowa­days the high­est per­cent­age of con­sum­ables ar­rive from China. So, the higher per­cent­age of cost sav­ings at­trib­uted to truck­ing con­tin­ues to wear ev­ery on-cost we are ex­posed to.

These must now be for­warded on to those that gen­er­ate the high­est prof­its that were for­mally off­set by our in­abil­ity to jus­tify our full cost re­cov­ery needs – the for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers and im­porters.

Why should we sit back, wish­ing we could get a rate rise when the only way that’s go­ing to hap­pen is by us hav­ing the gump­tion and the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing power of an across-the-board ap­proach to at­tain­ing a safe rate?


So what is a safe rate? The num­ber one ques­tion be­ing asked of the be­liev­ers, and my­self, as if to try and quell such talk, is ‘WTF is a safe rate?’

Well, how long is a piece of string? What came first, the chicken or the egg? Time! Time came first! You see, time is the one true mea­sure, the one con­stant, by which to equate a rate. No two loads are the same, weight wise, dis­tance wise, tem­per­a­ture wise, con­di­tion wise or freight-han­dling wise. The only thing ev­ery load has in com­mon is time. And even that varies.

The only way for­ward is chang­ing the way in which we charge by chang­ing the for­mula that we have fool­hardily al­ways made the mis­take of us­ing to rip our­selves off with. Charg­ing by the tonne is fine, so long as we mul­ti­ply that fig­ure by the time it takes.

Charg­ing by the pal­let space is fine, as long as we mul­ti­ply that fig­ure by the time it takes, be­cause it is the only way to ef­fec­tively achieve the cor­rect base cost for ev­ery freight move­ment go­ing for­ward.

For a long time we’ve been accepting a rate that is deemed ‘the go­ing rate’ or ‘the in­dus­try stan­dard rate’, or that other chest­nut, ‘the agreed rate’ (agreed to by whom?). I’m yet to meet any­one who will ad­mit that they sat down and agreed to ac­cept a rate that was less than a rate that would fully cover the cost of get­ting the freight to its des­ti­na­tion. That ‘rate’ leaves no meat on the bone where a rea­son­able profit might be avail­able af­ter all the costs as­so­ci­ated with mov­ing some­one else’s liveli­hood to the end user was sat­is­fied.

A safe rate is one that pays for ev­ery part of the jour­ney, ev­ery part of the freight han­dling, and they can af­ford to pay all of their driv­ers the full Fed­eral Award as a min­i­mum. And be hon­est to your­self, any­one that ad­vo­cates that you can­not and should not pur­sue full cost re­cov­ery, aka a safe rate, is not your friend. They should be made aware of how they are ef­fec­tively re­duc­ing your abil­ity to pro­vide for your fam­ily.


Again, we see trans­port as­so­ci­a­tions and other trans­port pests want­ing to be seen by the gov­ern­ment as be­ing keen to con­sult with and ask for help from mere truck driv­ers, by as­sist­ing them and the gov­ern­ment to fur­ther the man­age­ment of trucks, fa­tigue, higher ve­hi­cle mass lim­its and truck driver be­hav­iour.

When are they go­ing to re­ally get se­ri­ous in­stead of us­ing smoke and mir­rors? Who are they ap­proach­ing? Any­one you know? Prob­a­bly not! Have they even got their wish­list sorted? What have they over­looked?

We see no men­tion of places to pull over and park safely. No men­tion of an in­dus­try stan­dard sleep­ing com­part­ment. No new laws in re­gards to not us­ing day cabs when the need to use a work di­ary comes into play. Or run­ning con­stant sched­ules whereby there is ab­so­lutely no win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to ef­fec­tively man­age fa­tigue (aka sleep).

Un­for­tu­nately, the sad re­al­ity is the peo­ple in gov­ern­ment, who say they seek help in mak­ing changes that will cre­ate a safer en­vi­ron­ment for truck driv­ers and the gen­eral mo­tor­ing pub­lic, take the same ap­proach time af­ter time. They ea­gerly take the jaded ad­vice from those with an eco­nomic in­ter­est in the out­come, not those with a mor­tal in­ter­est in the fi­nal out­come. They fail to fully un­der­stand that they must speak to the mon­key, not the or­gan grinder.

The gov­ern­ment is fooled into tak­ing ad­vice from some­one who has never driven a truck in an un­for­giv­ing, hos­tile, en­vi­ron­men­tally chal­leng­ing lo­ca­tion, while be­ing phys­i­cally and men­tally ex­hausted, and can’t find a park­ing bay, or a place to lie down or find a toi­let.

That ‘some­one’ has never had the prob­lem of strug­gling to see where the cen­tre line is, or the fog line should be, while be­ing con­fronted by an­other driver who seems in­tent on blind­ing you with more LED lights than a for­mer oil re­fin­ery. These so-called ad­vi­sors aren’t suit­ably qual­i­fied to be tasked with help­ing find a so­lu­tion to the plight of the freight masters that ac­tu­ally de­liver ev­ery­thing Aus­tralians need.

Why would an association put for­ward some­one who, un­like many oth­ers, hasn’t driven a truck in­ter­state for the bet­ter part of the last 10 years or more? There are so many bril­liant fe­male truck driv­ers who would clearly ar­tic­u­late the plight of women truck driv­ers all over Aus­tralia. Women like Tracey Rehe, Sonja, Chris­tine and Brandy, just to name a few. They’re not hard to find, and they are well placed to an­swer any void in the search for the in­for­ma­tion sought.

Show the in­dus­try just how se­ri­ous you are, and it will hand you the so­lu­tion.


By the time you get to read this, ‘Op­er­a­tion Aus­trans’ may still be in full flight, or only just fin­ish­ing up. Ei­ther way, your opin­ion and/or ex­pe­ri­ences when deal­ing with this bully boy ha­rass­ment is be­ing asked for here and now. So please, email any­thing you’d like to dis­cuss to the email ad­dress be­low so it can be col­lated and dis­cussed.

“They must speak to the mon­key, not the or­gan grinder.”

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