Single united voice needed for road transport

June 2, 2021 8:16 am

Amalgamation of associations is the only way for this to happen and requires 100 per cent buy in from everyone involved, says RTANZ Chief Operating Officer Simon Carson.

At front of mind for many members is the continued “blanket speed reductions” being rolled out across the country by Waka Kotahi, with a number of district councils following suit. What happened to the government’s 2020 announcement that $5 billion would be allocated to roading? It’s far easier to identify the work that the government hasn’t done, as opposed to what it has done for better transport infrastructure. Instead, ongoing reductions for speed limits on roads that are already unsafe seem to be the Labour government’s approach to increasing road safety.  

A bitter taste from this year’s budget is still in the mouths of many due to the decision by government to allocate $1.3 billion of spending to enhance the rail network and build more trains. We can only hope this investment is used wisely with the aim of addressing environmental concerns created from an aging fleet and easing congestion in our already crowded main cities. RTANZ has a meeting in June with Waka Kotahi portfolio managers and other key stakeholders to address the major issues experienced by the heavy freight industry in New Zealand. 

Conversations relating to concerns that road transport operators have do need to be raised from the grass roots of industry. This usually means operators communicating in the first instance to the RTA branches, usually directed through the RTANZ staff members in the regions. Unresolved matters can be escalated to the regions where an executive committee works for the members. It is important for RTANZ members to know that each of the four RTANZ regions form individual incorporated societies, with each incorporated society being a member of the Road Transport Forum. From within each regional committee, the membership elected president, and the regional director then sits on the national RTANZ Board. Having this structure enables industry matters to either seek local resolution or receive the due escalation and transparency they require.

Much of what originates inside a branch or a region often ends up either at the forum office, or becoming an agenda item for discussion at one of the RTF national lobby groups. Examples of these specialist groups are the National Livestock and Transport Safety Group (NL&TSG) and the Log Transport Safety Council (LTSC). These industry groups are made up of regionally appointed representatives and have been created to identify what could become, or already are specific national issues. These groups then plan and work toward a suitable sector outcome. Often included in discussions are representatives from the authorities, MPI, CVST, NZTA, Worksafe, etc, to ensure each discussion is properly represented. 

It is also important for members to know that each person who sits on a branch, a regional or national committee, a specialist lobby group, or the board of RTANZ and RTF are all elected volunteers who unselfishly give their time to work toward a more efficient, safer, and more productive industry for all members. Many of these people fund their own way, or are generously supported by their employers for the greater good. 

Over the years there has been a sentiment from members who demand a strong and well supported “single voice”, which makes perfect sense, and has been a goal of RTANZ and RTF for many years. Put simply, an amalgamation of associations is the only way for this to happen and requires 100 per cent buy in from everyone involved. In each instance where an amalgamation discussion has been brought to the table by RTANZ, it is either rebuffed, or has obstacles raised by others that halt the efforts, and the progress of the RTANZ board. Having various industry voices around the country is absolutely counterproductive. Right now in an age of regulatory and compliance scrutiny a single UNITED voice is the only way for us to be heard.