If there is one thing Australia’s trucking community has learned about Chris Melham since his formal welcome at the ATA’s Trucking Australia event in Hobart, it’s that the new ATA chief has no time to waste. Within a short amount time, Chris has addressed the industry on a whole range of issues that need discussing – from driver fatigue and fuel tax indexation through to compliance and enforcement. Prime Mover had the opportunity to join Chris in taking stock of his first 100 days in office.
Q: Let’s start with a highly topical issue – the NHVR has established a dedicated Industry Reference Group (IRG). Is this a good thing?
A: I’ve been pushing for a high-level consultative committee for two years now, both when I was at NatRoad and now at the ATA. My approach has always been to work collegiately and collaboratively with other like-minded special interest groups to push the cause of the Australian trucking industry. Together we are a powerful stakeholder voice that really represents the entire supply chain, so yes, I think the IRG is a good thing. With the chief executives of the NHVR, the NTC and the ATA on board, I am excited about the opportunity to demonstrate to the NHVR where we agree and where we disagree. But I want representatives from the jurisdictions in the room at the same time too.
Q: So it’s not just more bureaucracy?
A: No – I believe the people who are heading key industry organisations now fully understand the old ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ adage. You could see it at the first IRG committee meeting – we went there with one voice and we came away, I believe, with the NHVR fully understanding that we are there to assist them. We as industry need to identify as much as possible where the blockages are for the NHVR within the bureaucracy. After all, that’s a difficult task for the Regulator alone because you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Q: What is so different about the IRG compared to past attempts to get together and talk business?
A: The obvious problem we have had in the past was a disconnect between some core organisations like the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development because they were running their own consultative forums with separate stakeholders. As an industry, we’ve never really had the opportunity to all be in the same room, and we never got to see what finally goes up to the ministers for consideration in a policy sense. The industry has got a proud record of putting submissions into almost every review that the NTC conducts, but I’m yet to be convinced that the position statements going into the ministerial council meetings are truly reflective.
The full story has appeared in the August edition of Prime Mover. To get your copy, click here.