Uphill shovelling 

In Newsletter Editorial6 MinutesBy Dave McCoidSeptember 17, 2021

This has been a week of metaphors, analogies, and reality checks.

Metaphor – the Interislander ferry situation as a metaphor for the rest of the national roading network. Currently, they’re both operating at about the same level of effectiveness. There was a news item floating around, yesterday I think it was, saying the government was calling for answers as to why there’s only ‘a’ boat operating for the next wee while. That’s easy and certainly shouldn’t take an independent inquiry, report, or paper. Here you go, gov. Your Cook Strait buckets are as poked as the rest of your roading network, and you seem to have the same level of urgency and desire in addressing either of them. Yes, new boats are coming, but their timeframe appears in line with the delivery of any piece of New Zealand infrastructure.

Analogy – the industry representation in this country and the National party. This is a great game of spot the difference. The status quo is struggling to make any headway, trying to figure out how and who best to communicate, what they stand for, who they represent, and what they want to achieve. Something has to happen so a clearer message to a new audience can be delivered in a way they understand, but an entrenched rear-guard is digging in, adamant the world is indeed flatter than it appears.

This week, we saw the RTF rebranded as Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand. That’s great. Probably sharpens up place and purpose in a 2021 world. Truth is though, I don’t really care what it calls itself. I still hold to what I said in my August mag editorial. The winning association will be the one that puts a big picture in its office depicting a driver’s view from the windscreen, with the words ‘What does their world look like today?’.  Under it should be a moveable arrow pointing somewhere between the label ‘garbage’ on the left, to ‘good and getting better’ on the right. Clarifying the need to constantly be moving that needle toward the right will provide focus each day.

Of course, you must communicate your wins, another thing the organisations have not been too hot on. In fact, in at least two cases, they’ve shackled their own ability to communicate, which is their only reason for being at the end of the day.

Agh, communication. The interesting thing about that, reading between the lines, is the level of enthusiasm each of the member entities displayed on its respective media to the rebrand announcement. Worth a look.

Yes, so in the end it can call itself ‘Mildred’s Mud Wrestling and Evening Slipper Association’, for all I care. If it starts having a real impact on the industry, giving an antagonistic, arrogant administration a slap in the chops, and clarifying our importance and needs, I’m in!

Reality check. Let’s end with that world from the view of the driver. The absurdity of compliance gone mad in a country we now know to be so conformist, most would hack a toe off with a butter knife if the government asked them to.

I give you the 58-tonne HPMV that happened upon a set of road works only to find the transit lane afforded via the 3 million orange cones to be woefully inadequate. The road shoulder was not one the driver was willing to use at the weight he had on. He didn’t bunt them with the truck, he thought this to be antagonistic on the one hand, not to mention adding an hour to the weekend buff-up. No, he stopped, got out, and commenced moving the cones about a foot to the right. This anarchistic act incurred the wrath of a distant worker who raced to the scene demanding an explanation – math and geometry obviously not his strong point at school. Ironically, his main concern appeared not to be the movement of the cones, rather the absence of that bastion of human welfare in garment form, a high-vis jacket.

“You’re making my workplace unsafe!” The driver initially pointed out that for it to be a workplace, there had to be a requirement for work, apparently absent at the time. Then he pointed out they were, in fact, making his workplace unsafe by providing a lane that was not fit for purpose, with a high risk of causing an HPMV to take a rest break – on its side.

Of course, registration numbers were feverishly written down, the promise of consequences made, and both parties parted.

I guess the common resolve to everything I’ve mentioned in every case above is: where to from here?

All the best

Dave McCoid