There were two big highlights in the last week, one for our industry and one for the country.

The industry one was presenting a bravery award to Hall’s driver Tony Cook in Christchurch.

I was joined with John Collins from EROAD, one of our key partners, in saying thanks, and bloody good job!

Tony put himself on the line to offer help and support after a nasty car accident near Ward, in November, and there’ll be an interview with Tony in February’s Transporting News magazine.

(Truckies are often the de facto first responders to many incidents on the road and Tony had some special talents he was able to draw on.)

After the presentation we had a look around the Hall’s depot, particularly the loading bay and the scheduling and dispatch room. Man, was that a hive of activity!

It reminded me how complex the supply chain is in terms of getting the right things to the right place at the right time.

The range of people in the company in terms of age, gender and ethnicity, particularly on the dispatch side, really showed me this is a sector that’s attractive to a great range of people.

The other thing that’s happened is the government is making some hard, and in some areas of the community, unpopular decisions. These include canning Auckland’s light rail scheme and announcing a start date for RUC on low emission vehicles. (More details on that are below).

But I am right behind these calls. We can’t be spending billions on schemes for one city that just don’t add up when the infrastructure of the whole country is creaky in places.

(The light rail project had $228m spent on it without a single bit of track being delivered. It’s probably heartbreaking for the consultants who did OK out of it all, but I am sure they can dry their tears on the odd $50 bill!)

The introduction of RUC on light emission cars had to happen to make sure that all road users are paying their share towards keeping the roading system built and maintained. But it is good to see the plug-in hybrids, who already pay some fuel excise, get a discount. It shows pragmatism and a degree of fairness which we want to see from every government.

In other news, it’s great that work is starting on the safety improvements to SH5 between Napier and Taupo. Getting the shoulders fixed and the roads widened just makes it safer for all drivers, and we believe it’s the better option rather than blanket speed restrictions that often aren’t backed up by any evidence of the need for them.

[I also got quoted during the week on More FM news talking about the flow-on effects of the costs of goods as the result of  the current conflict in the Red Sea. It’s not exactly my area of expertise, but I think anything that makes ships sail around Africa instead of using the Suez Canal  is going to hike prices. I would be happy to be proved wrong!]

In terms of business-as-usual activity over the last week we have:

  • Put out a final call for participants to take part in the Ministry of Transport’s low emission vehicle survey,
  • Had meetings with the Ministry of Transport’s Freight and Supply Chain team,
  • Had our regular meeting with Groundspread New Zealand,
  • Listened to a presentation to the Road Freight Safety Partnership from NZ Trucking about TruckSafe, a heavy vehicle accreditation scheme,
  • Made a submission to EECA on energy levies funding.
  • We are also currently seeking feedback from our sector leads about priorities in industry training for the National Industry Advisory Group of Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council.

A key takeout from all this is that the government’s approach of being more careful with money will be good for the country.

I think in recent years there’ve been too many solutions being introduced that have been left looking for problems to solve.

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