Writing a column such as this can have its bouquets and brickbats, the latter often fuelled by abuse
JUST WHEN I THINK no-one is listening, I get bombarded with emails from readers who have the ability to think. It would appear that some do get what is being said and don’t just read the black letters on a page. It suits me to get emails from drivers and owner-drivers rather than trucking company owners. Clearly trucking companies don’t appear to want to acknowledge that there may be someone out there that’s on to them. Someone who is continually speaking up against the ridiculously obvious mistakes that fleet owners wish to continue doing, regardless of the detrimental effect it has on their bottom line, their equipment and those that only seek to continue trying to impress an otherwise unworthy employer.
I have in the past received some very abusive correspondence from a sensitive fleet owner, not only via email, but through the gentlemanly art of the Marquess of Queensberry rules, and there are many more lining up to do the same. But alas, the poor misguided fools haven’t figured out yet that you should never shoot the messenger.
WHERE’S THE PROSPERITY?
The CEO of the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) has been quoted as saying that, “the transport industry and national prosperity need a more regulatory mindset”. Really? Why mention the national prosperity in the same sentence when speaking about the trucking industry? I don’t remember the last time I heard any mention of a prosperous trucking industry coming from the mouths of any government or government body over the past 40-plus years. That is why the QTA, the Australian Trucking Association, NatRoad and every other state-based association under the guise of being a decent spruiker for the trucking industry should not be supported in any way, shape or form by trucking companies any smaller than their major sponsors.
Using the data from a recent Productivity Commission report, he goes on to make more statements proving he has little knowledge of the subject matter, namely ‘trucking in Australia’. Alleging that “Australia’s use of its resources is growing at about half of its historical rate” gives him the notion that it is consistent with the inexorable decline in productivity in the transport industry since the early 2000s. Really?
So increasing the size and length of truck/trailer combinations hasn’t increased productivity?
If you care about your business at all, if you care to find the reason you are struggling to make a buck, do yourself a favour and find his words written on www. ownerdriver.com.au, which is this very magazine’s website. Read the bit where he goes on about President Franklin D. Roosevelt, micro economic reforms under Hawke, Keating and (try not to laugh out loud) Howard, and how the reform delivered many productivity and safety gains. Seriously? Or is he just hoping everyone has forgotten the last 20 years? Like B-doubles increasing productivity, but he fails to mention how they have devastated the ability to increase profits at the same rate the cost of buying such behemoths set us back?
Surely he’s wanting the trucking industry to cheer for the productivity increases made by Ford Australia for successfully fooling the people of Victoria that B-triples would make the roads safer and decrease the amount of trucks that they would have to deal with. If that was what he wanted to use as a factor, then he fell far short of the mark because trucking lost out on that smoke and mirrors exorcise, didn’t it?
The Victorian Government and Ford were very commendable for being able to hush hush the accident rate of those B-triples over the period of their tenure, but we mustn’t go there of course. He says we must not lose the opportunity to get involved in the planned reforms of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). Typical of every person that represents the majors, and the top transport and freight companies.
More would have been gained from their assisting the government with HVNL for the trucking industry over the past two-and-a-half years if they had put as much weight behind continuing with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Trucking would be much better placed today in dealing with the existing HVNL and would be so much closer to being a safer industry in general as a result.
But that’s not what these associations are about, they make, and only seek to keep the industry fractured, because a divided industry is an industry that doesn’t have the time to step back and see how destructive and just how unnecessary they really are.
Make sure you read his blog, and look at it objectively, for what it is. It is telling you, in black and white, why you need to resign your membership of these profit blockers.
Kudos to the CEO of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) Sal Petroccitto for announcing he and his team are about to review the tyre management practices within the PBS scheme, something that is well overdue. Hopefully it will set new standards, not only for multicombinations vehicles, but across the whole heavy truck industry.
With the degree of substandard rubber coming into the country at present, it’s high time the regulators accessed the ability of some tyre brands to do what they say they can.
The increased volume of tyre failures over the past five years has somewhat doubled or more, and the imported tyres from Asia are certainly a major concern.
Tyres are like drivers’ wages, they are seen as an afterthought, an unnecessary cost burden that must be reduced, regardless of the obvious importance they contribute to safety.
Tread patterns need to be looked at too, when price is usually the number one consideration when it comes to choosing brand and design.
Perhaps a national register or database that can keep tabs on what brand, design and which tyre fails on which axle could be a very helpful and lifesaving exercise.
It was fantastic to read such a heartfelt tribute to such a wonderful man, Billy ‘Cotty’ Cowen, by his stepson Gary. Cotty was the definition of a gentleman. Never has a man loved his wife like Billy loved his girl.
Many would not be aware of his abilities in the ring as an avid boxer. He fought many bouts back in his home state of Tasmania, seeing out his later years in Mildura. It made it difficult to see Cotty but it was always a real pleasure to pester him on the phone occasionally.
RIP my much-loved friend, you have Diesel Don, Chiller and Bear to keep you busy up there pal.
“The increased volume of tyre failures over the past five years has somewhat doubled.”
The views expressed by Owner//Driver’s columnists are not necessarily shared by the publisher of this magazine.