Opinion

We all have to take a bite of an unpleasant sandwich

There have been plenty of articles printed lately about potential supply chain disruption; prices going up in the supermarket ($12 for a lettuce, for God’s sake!), the price of fuel has gone through the roof, and is going to continue to head north.

We see it at the pumps each time we have to fill up. The world as we know it has changed. 

The reasons are many and varied. Beyond our control as individuals certainly. But I’m not convinced beyond control of our governments. 

We’ve been lurching from crisis to crisis, either through mismanagement, stupidity or wilfully is a real question. Worst of all some of the old crises remain unresolved. We still haven’t solved the AdBlue problem, in fact that now looks set to get worse with the plans for the Incitec plant.

Despite what the last government would have us believe, we still haven’t solved the AdBlue problem.

So, the bogyman is still out there. What are we going to do for AdBlue? What are the farmers going to do for fertilisers? If the problem is allowed to fester and deepen what does that mean for the food chain?

As a community it seems we’ve lost the ability to make decisions for ourselves. Every challenge that presents itself seems to warrant some form of government intervention. Universal cries of “something must be done” are met with gleeful willingness by politicians wanting to be seen to “do something” and cram it down on all of us regardless of need or circumstances. This has to change.

It’s become apparent also, at least from my reading, that throughout the whole Covid thing we’ve endured, many businesses have taken some serious financial hits. 

It’s apparent now that some have been trading insolvent. This isn’t confined to just construction either, although they’re the ones in the headlines right now. 

We have seen an uptick in businesses closing their doors and sending their fleets to auction.

Some transport companies have to have been affected as well. In fact, I’m convinced this may be in no small part some of the reason for the uptick in businesses closing their doors and sending their fleets to auction, as well as a few unexpected “retirements”. 

We all know in transport that the compliance burden generated over the last several years by particularly the Covid wave of insanity has added thousands to the cost of operating. 

For those of us tasked with carrying out trade across borders it has been devastating. Double and even triple handling of loads. Delays causing lost loads and lost revenue are impossible to make up. The reserves of many of even our most stable companies have been drained. Our resilience has been sapped. Simple as that.

I ask the question if any of the businesses that have been sold off had been offered for sale as a business. I believe one had been on the market and received no interest. Could it be that the huge capital investment and decreased returns in trucking have made for a poor investment? 

I’ve got no doubt issues caused by government overreach, rising costs, intractable customers, driver shortages and decisions made by those with no skin in the game have made trucking about as attractive as a dose of the runs!

The sad reality now is some transport operators are discovering the extent of the damage and the financial hole they now find themselves in. 

For transport the feel-good fuel excise cut handed out to motorists by a struggling Liberal government trying to buy a few votes has been a spectacular kick in the guts for transport. 

The fuel rebate that had been returned to trucking is now not coming. There will be businesses who struggle to stay afloat after the next Business Activity Statement that is for certain.

In NSW they talk about a rebate on the ridiculous tolls. Then they say it won’t be applied to all businesses. Then they cap it at $750. There are trucking businesses out there that rack that up in a couple of days! 

Forced to sit in stalled traffic and pay for the privilege or get ticketed by the spy cam for using a road we should be able to make a choice to use. Especially when we used the road historically and dangerous goods vehicles are required to use the old route because it’s somehow safer. You couldn’t make it up!

It seems unavoidable that we’re heading for our own transport implosion. A perfect storm that will sweep away anyone without the financial ability to sustain the onslaught. 

On the upside the loads will be there to be carted. Those chasing them will have, by now, realised they must actually make money to stay in the game. 

That’s actually not a bad thing. A struggling business, like a drowning man, reaches out blindly in their attempt to survive and unfortunately, they often drag others down with them.

It’s about time all of us in the transport game realised that there are a number of issues to be addressed. While not all of us are being affected in the same way, it is a rather unpleasant sandwich, and we all are going to have to take a bite.

You can contact me via @theoztrucker on twitter, On The Road Podcast (@otrpodcastaus) on Facebook or go to ontheroadpodcast.com.au to leave a comment and see links to the show or email me at mike@ontheroadpodcast.com.au.

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