Opinion: without trucks, Australia stops

By: Geoff Crouch


The trucking industry keeps the country moving – especially in troubled times

Opinion: without trucks, Australia stops
Geoff Crouch

 

Everything on the supermarket shelves, the fuel in our petrol stations and the medicine in our hospitals and pharmacies are delivered by trucks. Every single person in the community relies on trucks to get their essential goods.

The last few weeks have reminded every Australian of this truth.

Our truck drivers carry daily life in our country, but they don’t do it alone. They are supported by the schedulers, loaders, forkies, logistics managers, mechanics and all the other people who make up our industry.

Our vital role is a key point that the Australian Trucking Association is making to governments. Together with our member associations, we collectively represent the businesses and people of the Australian trucking industry. We are committed to safety, professionalism and viability.

Drawing on models followed overseas, we’re arguing that governments should consider freight and logistics, and the services that support it to be essential, no matter what level of shutdown is imposed.

This includes service stations and roadhouses, truck, trailer and logistics equipment production, sales and repair, postal services and post office boxes, and home delivery services.

We’re arguing that governments shouldn’t try to distinguish between essential and non-essential freight.

This distinction is already causing problems in New Zealand, where non-essential freight still needs to be moved out of the ports so there is room for essential freight to come in.

Although businesses in the grocery and fuel supply chains have been busier than ever, other trucking businesses are facing a dramatic reduction in work. The ATA has worked closely with our members to argue for government support for these businesses.

A key feature of our industry is that it’s an industry of small businesses. 97 per cent of Australia’s 53,200 trucking businesses have fewer than 20 employees. Of these, 28,900 are owner-drivers, who don’t employ staff at all.

We have secured important support for these businesses.

Eligible owner-drivers can apply for an expanded JobSeeker Payment with a new coronavirus supplement.

Small and medium sized trucking businesses that employ staff will be eligible for a cashflow boost of up to $100,000 with a minimum payment of $20,000.


Read Geoff Crouch’s argument for accreditation reform, here


We have particularly welcomed the federal government’s support for business investment, which includes government-guaranteed business loans, an increase in the asset write-off threshold, and an additional 50 per cent investment allowance.

These business investment measures will enable trucking businesses to lift their investment in trucks and trailers fitted with better safety equipment.

In addition to advocating for our members, the ATA is providing government decision makers with accurate and timely information about the impact of the pandemic.

Using our extensive network of members, followers and contacts, we are briefing ministers, public service executives and regulators every day on issues ranging from container volumes to restrictions on emergency breakdown operators. We are being listened to. The message is getting through. We are getting results.

We also see our role as providing authoritative information, at a time when there is so much chatter and so much of it wrong.

The coronavirus information on the ATA website – www.truck.net.au/coronavirus – is clear and accurate.

In the months to come, the ATA and our member associations will continue working together to represent the industry.

By working together with confidence and unity, we will be able to keep up the flow of essential food, groceries, medical supplies and chemicals as the pandemic worsens and more restrictions are imposed.

Because the pandemic will end. And the trucking industry, as an essential industry, will keep delivering until it is over, and beyond.

Geoff Crouch chairs the Australian Trucking Association

 

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