What about us?

In The Last Mile5 MinutesBy The Accidental TruckerSeptember 30, 2023

As I started to write this column, my thoughts were interrupted by the unmistakable sound of a Rolls-Royce Merlin V12. I went outside to see a World War II Spitfire almost directly overhead. A quick lookup of the Warbird registry told me that this particular example was built in 1944 in England and served in the Royal Air Force and the Italian, Israeli and Burmese air forces before undergoing a complete restoration in New Zealand.

It’s a pity we don’t hear the sound of these magnificent machines more often, thousands of individual parts working together in perfect harmony. But it does make me wonder what it must have been like in England and other locations from 1939 to 1945, where these sounds were more than a daily occurrence. It also makes me wonder what the New Zealanders who built, serviced or flew these planes back then would think of New Zealand now. Surely many would question whether their efforts were all worth it.

The scenes we saw in Opotiki of an open display of Nazi symbols by Mongrel Mob members escorted by the police, while law-abiding citizens were held back, would surely bring tears to the eyes of anyone who served to rid the world of such behaviour.

How good was it to finally see the Pūhoi-to- Warkworth section of the Northern Motorway open? I guess it is yet another example that good things eventually come if we wait a while. I do think, though, that it is more than a bit hypocritical of this government to claim how excited it is with this project given that when the National government first mooted it as a Road of National Significance, the Labour opposition labelled it the ‘Holiday Highway’. And I have not seen a comment from the Greens, especially Julie Ann Genter, about how excited the Greens are that the project is completed.

An article attributed to a Stuff reporter published in The Post on 16 June, headed Sectors hurting most in economic squeeze, caught my eye. As the title suggests, the writer discusses those sectors of the economy that, in his opinion, are, or are likely to, feel the biggest impacts as the economy contracts. He lists these sectors as: banking and financial, construction, the primary sector, retail sector, mining and business services. I read through this several times to see if I had missed something, but nowhere could I find any reference to the road- freight sector. Yet, as we all know, road freight supports how each of the sectors goes about its business and, in turn, these sectors impact the road-freight business, and some sectors have more impact than others.

Perhaps I should not be surprised that our industry is not mentioned. We are not good at selling ourselves, especially in the world of academia. We just get on with the job expected, and if one operator falls by the wayside, another is ready to pick up the pieces. Not long ago, we had a single industry voice, the Road Transport Forum, which used to be the industry champion seeking out opportunities to ‘sell’ the industry and its services whenever possible. For reasons that I still cannot understand, we now have multiple organisations purporting to represent the industry but who appear to be on widely diverging paths, and it’s the industry that is suffering.

Unless we have a surprise sprung on us, 14 October is election day. While the colour of your political persuasion is a personal choice, the most important thing is that you exercise your right to vote. Failure to vote is to neglect your duty as a citizen and diminishes your right to criticise the election’s outcome. Perhaps this should also apply to those who don’t pay for the use of our roads. If they don’t pay to use them, they should have no right to criticise how the money collected is used.