We are delighted that the Government has heeded the call from Transporting New Zealand to extend fuel tax discounts and the reduction in road user charges (RUC) until early next year. It’s a good win and it shows our association is a proven and effective voice for our industry.

We’ve been in touch with the minister and officials and spoken to the media so there can be doubt that action is required. Our recent survey showed that 96% of the industry supported our move to get the extension and over 40% of transport businesses said that their costs would be eased by the continuation of the road user charge discount.

Road transport is massively impacted by the cost of fuel. Only a year ago, 20% of companies said that fuel was a quarter of the business costs; today almost 70% of the industry say that fuel is in excess of 25%. So any easing is good for the industry and ultimately, for consumers.

Stress and anxiety on the rise

Over three-quarters of operators listed increased anxiety and stress caused by cost pressures as their biggest concern; the second was financial strain at 70%; and the third was the inability to pass on those increased costs to customers.

We are urging businesses to contact Transporting New Zealand if they have had cases of customers deducting the RUC discount from invoices or being told they should pass it on. We can then seek legal support on behalf of members.

Almost half the industry say they are cancelling or delaying capital investment. That’s not spending on new trucks, plant and equipment, and there will be a downstream economic consequence of this. Economist Cameron Bagrie talks about the risk of stagflation, which is high inflation and low growth, and that appears to be where New Zealand is heading.

In this stressful environment, it’s important to say look after yourselves and your staff, many of whom will be under significant stress because of rising household costs, or post-Covid trauma. As an industry, we have traditionally been pretty stoic but when people are under stress, they need to ask for help. Transporting New Zealand can arrange support for you through counselling services or advice on any aspect of your business. For example, Cameron Bagrie, who is a close adviser and supporter of the industry, can help businesses arrange finance.

Wild weather also takes a toll

It’s winter so we have got to expect bad weather but last week has been extreme. We are seeing the result of poor investment in the roading network and we are also seeing the impact of climate change and more extreme weather events. It’s a perfect storm.

In the Buller area, a slip blocked vehicles in exactly the same place where there have been previous slips. Good infrastructure maintenance and a decent capital fund would ensure that this wouldn’t happen again in the same place. Last year, South Canterbury experienced what authorities called a “one in 200-year storm”. Well, it’s happened again this year.

Taranaki operators also told us about the poor condition of roads in their area. We made the case with Waka Kotahi and the media. Operators lost tyres and had damage to gear as a result of roading conditions. 

If you know of a road that has damaged your vehicle and you’ve got photographic evidence of the road and damage to your vehicle, then please send it to us so we can advocate on your behalf.

Eighteen months ago, I talked to the agency and gave them exact spots between Hawera  and New Plymouth where there were big maintenance mountains. Much of that work was done but now there are other places requiring maintenance. We are not attacking Waka Kotahi or contracting staff; they are frustrated, too. This is a political decision to underfund roads. It’s up to the Government to spend more to keep up with the maintenance mountain to improve roads and to ensure we don’t keep going backwards.

– Nick Leggett is chief executive of Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand.

You can also listen to an audio version of Nick talking to David Killick here.

Photo 33572307 © Charlieaja | Dreamstime.com

Please note: The content of this Advisory has been issued to inform members of Transporting New Zealand. It is for road freight transport industry circulation, not for media publication. It can be forwarded in its entirety to members of Transporting New Zealand. It cannot be reproduced, or printed in parts, under any logo other than Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand’s logo, without written permission from Transporting New Zealand.