Threat­en­ing feed­back

Writ­ing a col­umn such as this can have its bou­quets and brick­bats, the lat­ter of­ten fu­elled by abuse

Owner Driver - - The Interstater -

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.

SEC­OND-RATE RUB­BER

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.

RIP COTTY

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.

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