It’s broke. Fix it! 

In Newsletter Editorial4 MinutesBy Dave McCoidSeptember 24, 2021

I happened upon an address given at the 2010 IRTENZ conference in Rotorua by Tony Friedlander. It must have been either on the cusp of him leaving the RTF CEO role or just after. It was a fascinating read, especially the last three slides of a section called Fragmented Industry. That garnered a chuckle before I even read the first bullet.

The key focus points on the third to last slide involved the number of bodies representing the industry, the overheads and wastage incurred running all the above, and their impact on the overall effectiveness of the industry’s voice.

The second to last slide was a bit sad when he said that not overseeing some form of greater cohesion was his greatest failure. But he said the objective remained, nonetheless, to have a single powerful trucking-sector group.

The last slide highlighted the difficulties of achieving the holy grail and used words like fiefdoms, parochial interests, and personalities; but also pointed to the substantial benefits of overcoming all of that, and they included political (clout, I guess), policy, numerical, image, and of course, financial.

More than a decade later, with no change at all, you might say, ‘hey, consistency’s a virtue’, ‘better the devil you know’, ‘be careful what you wish for’.

If knackered roads, an arrogant government with complete contempt for us, primaeval fatigue and driving hours laws, bugger-all facilities when we’re the only ones working, priority given to art over truck-sympathetic amenities in new infrastructure, and millions of dollars of our money propping up God knows how many representatives are the reality, then I say throw caution to the wind, and wish away.

The thing that boggles my mind is the Laurel and Hardy-like contradiction between running transport and representing it. To be successful in transport, you must know without exception where every penny went and how hard it sweated when it got there. I know if the man who employed me for almost three decades gave me a wad of cash and said “build a shed”, and three years later the money was gone and all there was to show was a cardboard lean-to, there’d have been consequences that involved his boot, my arse and the gate.

Yet when it comes to representation, there doesn’t seem to be a worry in the world about paying fees into the representative void while your staff’s national workplace and conditions self-destruct around them, and taxes are syphoned off to fund social candy floss among a myriad of other crap.

Yes, there’s an element of contradiction between the act itself and the representation of the act. It proffers the question, who is actually being represented? As I said the other week, I tried that exercise last year, and that proved… complex.

As one of the sharpest transport minds I’ve ever met said to me recently: “Is what you’re realising in terms of achievement, proportional to the effort invested.”

That leaves us with one conclusion. It’s broke. Fix it.

All the best

Dave McCoid