Opinion: How did we get here?

By: Rob McKay

The freight transport industry has serious issues for the future good but the nation is losing its grip

Opinion: How did we get here?
Joyce might yet have to leave federal Parliament, leaving the government short of a majority.


It’s said that the great US political satirist Tom Lehrer, on the election of Ronald Regan as president, that he would have to give up his calling because events were making him redundant.

Now we have Donald Trump.

Closer to home, Australian’s insistence that they have some of the funniest people in the world was proven yet again – and there wasn’t a professional comedian in sight.   

Plenty of state and federal politicians and bankers. No professional comedians.

Pity the cast of Utopia.

One episode of that comedy series saw Sitch’s character, Tony Woodford, a senior bureaucrat at the fictional Nation Building Authority, which looks after infrastructure creation, actually battling hard to ensure port sell-offs would avoid harming competition.

How they must have roared in Macquarie Street!

When your shtick, Sitch, is more serious than the political and bureaucratic reality, your show’s days must be numbered.

Then came high-profile Kiwi Barnaby Joyce . . .

Utopia can’t compete with that.

Joyce might yet have to leave federal Parliament, leaving the government short of a majority.

After his performance on the Murray-Darling water issue, that might be a good thing.

It’s never positive when the deputy prime minister makes light of disgraceful behaviour, be it water rustling or cattle duffing.

Yet, with his party facing destabilisation and government to be on a High Court knife-edge perhaps to the end of the year, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester is supposed to focus on delivering a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy fit for purpose into the 2020s and beyond.

If it actually is a serious effort, rather than just a way of looking busy, and if the bulk of it is focused on mapping out in minute detail how it is to be delivered than merely forming a list of empty promises, there might be an occasion for confidence in the process.

However, given the glacial pace of freight transport reform, let alone neglect of the industry’s productivity in those areas where government has control, it’d be unwise to hold one’s breath.


Note: an earlier version of this column stated the hope that "the late, great" Tom Lehrer had been "cremated, lest a disruptor uses what’s in his grave to propel trucks without the need for diesel". The author now realises that nothing could be further from the truth and the man who brought us 'Poisoning Pigeons in the Park' is, thankfully, still with us. We hope he retains his sense of humour. He joins august company in having been consigned to the hearafter prematurely by the press . . .

Check out the full article in the September edition of ATN. Subscribe here.

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