The politics of politics

In October 2023, Carrier's Corner3 MinutesBy Blake NobleNovember 16, 2023

It’s taken plenty of restraint for me to avoid broaching the topic of industry associations and the drive for ‘one voice’ – far too many column inches have already been given to it. So perhaps there is some irony in me allocating further ink to the subject…

I admire the passion for the subject of one industry association. But I’d be equally as keen to see that enthusiasm focused on the betterment of the industry as opposed to the politics behind it.

As a relative newcomer to the industry, I believe the work of others in promoting the sector deserves public acknowledgement and praise. But is some of that also at the heart of many of today’s challenges and the potential to (again) realign and come together as a singular body (in some form)?

I believe there can never be a single organisation capable of being all things to everyone; we simply have too many individual needs and wants. And, as small as our population may be, the diversity of thought and opinion is as wide as anywhere on the planet. I see choice as valuable, and different approaches allow operators the ability to participate in an organisation more closely aligned to their own wants, as opposed to something that’s ‘one size fits all’.

Furthermore, some brilliant recent examples of cross-association cooperation and partnerships have driven the outcomes the industry has sought. For example, the work of the Livestock Working Group and Intermodal Safety Working Group has been significant, with both groups achieving important engagement and change for the benefit of the industry nationwide.

At the heart of it, we must place our trust and confidence in the CEOs the associations have appointed and focus on the boards doing what they’re in place to do – govern. We’re fortunate to have three CEOs with vastly different yet relevant backgrounds, and we must believe they are there to act in the industry’s best interests – collaboration or otherwise – and empower them to act as they see appropriate.

Do I see scope for greater efficiency, collaboration, and in turn, outcomes? You bet I do. But does this have to come by way of a unified body? I’m not so sure it does.

Talking of politics, it’s hard not to get a little excited to hear a political party committing to some serious roading infrastructure investment by way of National’s recent transport policy election announcement. Give it a month, and we’ll see whether those plans become reality. In the meantime, we’ll leave the politics to the real politicians!