Industry engagement is at the core of what we as associations do. ?However, whilst dealing with the ‘macro’ issues, it is all too easy to become distracted from the ‘micro’ issues.
?Sometimes negotiating with the political and bureaucratic realm on issues of national regulatory importance can distract from simple issues such as the closure of a fundamental truck stop.
?That is why events such as the 2010 NSW Regional Trucking Forum in Dubbo we recently held are so important, and by extension, why it was so successful.
?The large turnout of operators from across the state were provided with an opportunity to engage directly with the politicians and bureaucrats that decide the regulatory direction of our industry.
?Whilst we as an association can undertake the ‘voodoo’ of lobbying and explain the issues in a policy context to the decision-makers, sometimes hearing it direct from the voices of those who are on the road can make the message all that more powerful.
?In many ways the deck can be stacked against an industry when it comes to influencing policy.
?A government department and its advisers have daily access to their Minister and government.
?It is up to industry to try to provide any counter view that may have been developed by the bureaucracy through whatever resources they have used to develop the policies they submit, often from the confines of an office a long way from where the policies are enacted.
?In Dubbo, the keynote speaker, Minister David Borger engaged the room with his strong commitment to working with the industry, providing encouragement to those of us who enjoyed a similar relationship with his predecessor, Michael Daley.
?Minister’s Borger’s pragmatic and straightforward approach and response to questions from industry was welcomed and we look forward to maintaining an open and constructive dialogue.
?That he would engage with the industry on such localised but important issues as developing a viable solution to replace the loss of the city’s only truck stop and sending one of his senior advisers to Dubbo to work through with the local member, Dawn Fardell and Dubbo Mayor, Allan Smith, only reinforced the message that he is a Minister who seeks solutions not ‘computer says no’ responses (his words!).
?Ms Fardell and Mr Smith were pivotal to the success of the day, both actively engaging with NatRoad in the lead-up to the event, as well as singing the praises of the organisation to the Minister and attendees.
?NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell presented his alternative government’s approach to government, with an engaging presentation that provided an interesting counterpoint in the lead-up to the next election in a little over a year.
?It was also a reflection of the importance placed by the political realm on such forums that Mr O’Farrell also had the Shadow Acting Minister for Transport, Duncan Gay with him.
?Such forums mean the grassroots are provided with a genuine chance of influencing policy development.
?The key issues discussed were nothing new to the forum, but the fact that the political and bureaucratic heard of them first hand from the grassroots of the industry and provided fresh commitments to further examine issues such as the reduction of the speed limit on the Newell Highway and the safety and congestion issues this is presenting, and the perennial issue the fatigue regulations and the contentious issues of a split rest option and the 84hr rule, only serves to highlight why the event was such a success, and why we’ll be endeavouring to develop the concept further into the future across Australia. ?These types of forums are at the core of what NatRoad is about.
?It is our objective to not just provide a comprehensive suite of member services to give your business the competitive edge, but to provide a grassroots voice for the working families who make their living on our nation’s roads.
?This means not just to be that voice, but to be the conduit so that members can engage directly with the people who make the decisions that directly influence your working environment.
?We look forward to developing a similar program for all our other members across Australia in their own states.