Government’s vital role in transport

In News5 MinutesBy Dom KalasihJune 9, 2023

Over recent months it’s been hard not to be made even more aware of the challenges in remuneration in the nursing and education sector. My daughter’s college has a calendar of scheduled days off due to strikes.

One of the things that strikes me is that nursing and teaching are seen as essential social services, and while there are many differences, there are also similarities with transport. The movement of freight is essential to our economy and that is something that is not sufficiently understood or appreciated by government. It doesn’t feel that long ago that we were advocating hard with MBIE and Waka Kotahi officials to get transport activities and freight vehicles accepted as an essential service so operators wouldn’t need to jump through bureaucratic hoops and circles so freight could move around under Covid-19 restrictions.

Transporting New Zealand has a solutions-based culture and we are part of the solution, not part of the problem. However, for transport to work well we do need government support and therefore this week we announced our Road Transport Industry Platform for the 2023 General Election.

It’s not rocket science and we’ve kept it very simple. We need government to support us in the five policy priorities covering people, productivity, safety, decarbonisation, and resilience.

Frankly, without that support there will be detrimental effects to our economy and standard of living.

Among specific measures Transporting New Zealand would like to see parties committing to are:

  • An inflation-adjusted and real term 10% annual increase in roading maintenance budgets each year for three years over the life of the next Parliament to allow a catch-up in improving the state of our roads;
  • A targeted approach to speed management in high-risk areas, rather than blanket reductions;
  • A partnership with industry to boost engagement in the Road to success traineeship and driver qualification, to develop our local workforce;
  • Accelerated tax depreciation for low and zero emission vehicles, including Euro-6 and high-productivity motor vehicles.

The current government and the key aspiring parties will be at our conference, A Changing World, being held in Lower Hutt at the end of this month, which will give attendees a great opportunity to hear and question them directly on their respective policies.

In other news, this week we farewell Fiona McDonagh, our membership manager. Fiona joined to lead the Te ara ki tua Road to success – Driver Traineeship Graduate programme and she’s brought an unrivalled degree of passion, enthusiasm, and a huge amount of genuine care for the development of young people to that role.

The traineeship is a flagship programme for us to help secure the future of our sector and it is vital it continues to grow and we scale it up. Implementing a tertiary qualifications pathway is a major structural change for our industry which is extremely challenging. The traineeship is not exclusive to our members; it is an industry-wide initiative and I’m sure a number of transport operators are very grateful for her help in this area.

Fiona also stepped up to the membership manager role which took responsibility largely for the commercial aspects of the membership offer and our customer value proposition, and she leaves that area in much better shape. Fiona leaves with our best wishes for her future.

Finally, we will be sending out membership renewals soon. In recognition and appreciation of the tremendous support we’ve had from members this year, we’ve also made the decision to send our membership certificates with the renewal notice.

  • By Dom Kalasih, interim chief executive of Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand