David Goodwin, 15 April 2016

So big business and big unions are teaming up to “help” keep 60,000 small owner-driver trucking companies“safe” from quoting too low, which causes them to die.

The slogan “Without Trucks, Australia Stops” is as common as it is true. It has been true in times of peace and waralike — nothing moves unless the freight arteries around our nation and off and on our wharves move.

Recently, despite increased regulation by the Heavy Vehicle Regulator, new technologies and comparatively better roads, we have a “first in a lifetime” situation, created by the Gillard government, that requires new rules to mandate what 60,000 businesses can charge customers — read every business that moves, buys or sells products.

Well-funded lobbies in Canberra largely have hushed up the impact that mandating a two-tier pricing structure on the nation’s freight will have.

First, on the lives of 60,000 small family businesses — businesses that in many cases have been handed from father to son across generations. These are businesses that travel the remotest reaches of our nation to deliver cattle to market, delivering fencing and critical supplies the other way. Businesses that zip across our cities carrying internet purchases from large and small online businesses alike. Businesses that queue through the night to clear containers off wharves feeding warehouses right across our struggling industrial city suburbs.

Second, the consequences will be like a cancer to our struggling economy, where efficient supply chains affect the price of everyday purchases. The cost of our products reaching international markets will go up.

Sadly not only the trucker families who have toiled so hard for generations helping build this nation will go to the wall but also the businesses relying on efficient freight, which ultimately will be priced out of business. The remoteness of our great producing regions necessarily means freight is a large part of doing business.

So why the hush from Canberra? The hush is a deadly combination that is seeing the interests of big business and big unions align against the battlers. In the same way the shoppies union works hand in glove with Coles and Woolies and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union works closely with its bribing pay­masters in the tier-one construction companies, now we have the Transport Workers Union teaming up with the big-end transport companies to wipe out the little truckies.

May I dare suggest that for once in a lifetime these small businesses are fast getting a platform from which to finally compete and disrupt the big guys.

In two years, www.truckit.net has seen freight booking growth of 300 per cent. The website is an online marketplace where jobs are booked nationwide; it sees end consumers contracting directly with owner-drivers in many cases. This freight marketplace has empowered the little truckies, and the future — if they are ­allowed one — will see them less reliant on bully paymasters in big business.

Last week alone we saw jobs traverse this nation, including an owner-driver doing a job from Brisbane to Joondalup in Western Australia for $10,850 — the job was listed, bid and won, as it turns out, by the highest bidder. No Toll or Linfox required. Just a little guy doing the job. We got a quote for the biggest trucking company to do this for $12,300, which most likely would have gone to a subcontractor anyway. Now the big end has lost the job. Instead, a truckie got a direct new customer, a customer got a better freight price — the only loser was the big guys. Now they want to force the little guy out so they are the only option in town.

The test for this government is will it stand up for small businesses and take on the unions, big business and the ALP? It must not delay, it must end this attack on free, private enterprise. For the sake of producers and consumers, it must not allow the nation to be held to ransom. Once again we have the TWU and its ALP puppets wanting to control our arteries and industry at the nation’s expense. Stop them before it is too late — our frontline is crumbling.

David Goodwin is chairman of www.truckit.net and a former president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Queensland.

Extracted in full from The Australian.