Senator for Western Australia, Glenn Sterle, presented a keynote speech in Victoria this week, congratulating the trucking industry for finally being recognised as an essential service following the challenges of Covid-19.
“Finally we are absolutely recognised as essential services because they’ve finally worked out that toilet paper does not grow on a shelf.”
Sterle spoke at the VTA State Conference 2021 which is being held 21-23 March at Silverwater Resort, Phillip Island.
He revealed early in his keynote address that he is a friend of Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, who he stated is a fantastic advocate for the industry.
This praise extended to the cooperation the government has had on both a national and state level, particularly with Buchholz’s team and his counterparts across the country, as they try to keep Australia’s road transport industry on the move during a pandemic.
“My phone was melting when the roadhouses were shutdown, when the guys and girls couldn’t get to the toilet or to the shower,” said Sterle.
“I was getting phone calls as far away as Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and WA but we all worked collaboratively together and we shared that pain.
“I will say this: The way the truckies were treated in some of the distribution centres was despicable, but we were able to work with our ‘second-class citizens’ and tackle that part of the supply chain.
“Finally, the nation has worked out what we do and it’s fantastic.”
Sterle also weighed in on the Inquiry into road transport.
“When I hear of wage theft in the industry, my first thoughts go to the operators who are doing the right thing,” he said. “And yet in this industry, in Australia, our operators are awarded just as well for doing the wrong thing.”
As these operators are creators of jobs and wealth, Sterle is especially critical of how their behaviour impacts the ‘transport family’ – the drivers, the admin staff, the people who help service clients.
Sterle asserted that the industry has to be heard as a unified voice.
He used his platform at VTA State Conference 2021 to encourage these conversations to be heard by government officials such as Buchholz.
Meanwhile, Victorian Transport Association CEO, Peter Anderson, has emphasised the importance of supply chain sovereignty for Australia to maintain its high standards of living, as the nation emerges from the Covid pandemic and vaccinations are rolled out across the country.