Opinion

Time to tame the Bureaucratic Monster

We have created a Bureaucratic Monster in our endeavours to make the road transport industry the perfect and safest industry sector.

We haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater in these endeavours, we have thrown the baby into the bathtub and by sheer weight of numbers and with compliance and regulations we are drowning it. 

Step back for a moment and think about the bureaucracy involved in regulating, enforcing and supporting this critically industry sector. 

• Federal transport ministers and the supporting public servants.

• National Heavy Vehicle Regulator with all of the supporting public servants.

• Five state governments ministers with all of the trappings and departments with all of the public servants.

 Two Commonwealth Territories and departments with all of the public servants.

• Over 200 industry organisations representing different transport industry sectors with all of the people these organisations employ.

• Countless government and private groups who provide the training and all of the ancillary needs to satisfy the endless amount of compliance and other regulatory requirements. 

• Probably missed a few so add them to your count.

The list above is a giant Bureaucratic Monster that needs to be paid for and by who. 

Firstly, it is the road transport industry with the Australian taxpayer picking up the balance. 

Massive amounts of hard earned money that could be spent smarter to benefit the road transport industry and more importantly Australia as a nation.

In order to ensure the road transport sector pays more than their fair share, the Bureaucratic Monster has invented some of the most insane (words genuinely fail me) fines and monetary beaches that beggar belief. 

A very brief example of these:

Monetary penalties for clerical errors

I can vouch for this as I do drive a truck on an irregular basis. I was pulled over by the Queensland Police on my way in the body truck doing a delivery to Mt Isa. 

An inspection of my work diary revealed that I had neglected to fill out in the front portion of my book registering where I had travelled from, penalty $800.

It was very clear from the relevant page of my current diary. 

Further to this I hadn’t added up the driving and rest hours on the previous 30 or so pages, penalty 30 x $172, or $5160, plus $17,200 possible fine for the company.

Fortunately, the officer involved didn’t feel like doing the paperwork as each of the 30 instance had to be document separately. 

So, I got away with a very stern reprimand. Are these clerical error putting people’s lives at risk or are we making criminals out of good honest hard-working individuals?

This list of nonsense revenue raising which impacts directly on the driver is almost endless and the reason good driver are leaving the industry.

In my small to medium business management book, Don’t Suck the Pencils, I encourage business operators to step outside of their business and look at through the eyes of the key stakeholders. 

I would encourage the keys people driving the Bureaucratic Monster to step out of their current world and revisit the world through the eye of the key stakeholder, the people who actually drive the trucks and keep this great nation moving. 

I would suggest without exaggeration that the ratio of people employed by the Bureaucratic Monster would be not less than four to one. 

Meaning that every time a long-distance transport operator steps into his truck, he has four or more people, who have never driven a truck, already in there telling him how to do his job. 

This Bureaucratic Monster is gobbling up valuable human resources and millions of hard earnt dollars but contributing very little if any productive wealth or benefit for the road transport industry or Australia as a nation. 

Time to step back and look at this Bureaucratic Monster and ask ourselves how we can do this better and more importantly what really needs to be done to keep this critical industry sector running safely and efficiently as it possibly can. 

About the author:

Graham Cotter’s passion is for small business, especially the road transport sector, and the significant role it plays in the Australian economy. 

Having both managed and owned a small-fleet operation for a number of years, Townsville-based Cotter has witnessed first-hand the difficulties small-business operators face in the day-to-day aspect of running a transport business and has now dedicated his life to assisting other business owners.

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