2nd May 2021 Inquiries week.

Goodaye all. It has been a busy week. After the NSW Centre for Road Safety meeting in Dubbo last week, there was also a follow up survey that I completed in some detail, expanding on some of the subjects that allowed more than just a yes or no answer and then there was another meeting offered as online, but once committed and then participating, I found it was also in conjunction with a Sydney meeting, Tuesday at 6PM. So, I spent another two hours putting forward a truckies views to a small group through zoom. That left me time Wednesday to write and outline my summing up for the Senate Inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport Industry in Canberra, at which I had been offered a half hour spot as the new President of the National Road Freighters Association.

Last year I had put in a written submission, at a time when few truckies had, then I was given an invite to speak at the Albury oral submissions with the then President of NRFA. I was able to get to Albury, sleep for the night and then Gordon picked me up from the truck and they allowed me to speak first, as I was loaded for Melbourne and had to get in, get unloaded and get reloaded and back out that day.

So this invite was a bonus and knowing the amount of time we had, I rang and asked could I lodge it in writing when I appeared, to make sure I wasn’t forced to leave something out, due to the timeframe. I was however asked to submit online, both so my points could be confirmed as within the terms of reference, but could also then be put before all those on the inquiry, some of whom were doing so by videoconferencing. That meant I had to write and submit it that afternoon, as we were leaving 5.30 AM Thursday morning.

When offered the spot and still being slingbound, I knew I could not drive, so put out a call on our NRFA WhatsApp and a new member to the board, elected when I had been, offered to take the day off, drive into Dubbo and stay Wednesday night, then drive down Thursday, take part and then return that evening. With Craig’s permission, as I did not want to take up even more of his time and delay him further from returning to work Friday, I sought meetings with the new Ceo of the Australian Trucking Association, and then Natroad and the Livestock Bulk and Rural Carriers Association in Canberra Thursday.

So another 1300 words submitted, then off early Thursday, arriving at Parliament house at 10.30, pretty much as we had planned, where I had to get Craig to give me a hand to put my belt back on after the metal detector would not let me through. Bloody sling! My submission covered 5 issues, each of which do affect my safety on the road, then three issues that would make the job better, if not specifically, safer.

We listened to a couple of submissions in front of us, had to leave for one which was in camera only, so grabbed a coffee then returned for our spot, but some had gone on a bit longer and we only started at 12.30 but pretty much finished just after 1PM and knowing it was all lodged, was happy to keep to the time allotted. We headed off happy with what he had got across and drove over to the ATA building, where all three groups I had hoped to visit, have offices.

In ringing NRFA members, one had raised an issue and I had followed up with Bec from LBRCA and she had not only congratulated me on my election as President, but had been very keen to work together in the future. At the LBRCA AGM in Dubbo, which I had attended with and thanks to Karina from the Newell Highway and Dubbo Bypass group, I had raised some issues, specifically about NSW RMS and truck rest areas and had both followed up sending the details to Bec, but also with the RMS staff who had attended as well. When I spoke with her about the Brisbane port issue, Bec was also very interested in our Triple P paper, Withdrawing Police powers to Police the HVNL, so I have sent her copies of that and the National Rest Area Strategy.

I had received an email before we left, that the Natroad Ceo would not be in, Bec from LBRCA had texted me while in chambers she was off crook and that meant we were a bit early for the ATA, but we went and asked if early was good, but he was tied up, so we grabbed a quick bite of lunch and then returned for our chat. The new Ceo of the ATA, Andrew McKellar had himself appeared before the Senate Inquiry the day before, but has only been in his new role for a short time, hence my making the effort to meet with him whilst in Canberra. Andrew was very generous with his time, was frank and very open about issues and I do hope we can work together towards mutual industry solutions to the problems that have plagued us for so long. I have sent him a copy of my submission and asked his support for both the National Rest Area Strategy and the National Road Standard.

My other big job this week has been to design from scratch, a logbook divider and flyers for NRFA which I must have to the printers tomorrow morning to have in time for the Brisbane Truckshow. It also has photos and all our member benefits and logos etc and has taken me hours, so not so many phone calls this week.

And just so you don’t think I have been bludging, I have started physio twice a week, have to do ten lots of exercises with heat pack first, exercise, then cold pack, three times everyday and whilst movement of the shoulder is slowly improving, the pain in both has got worse and sleeping is still difficult. But such is life and I know it will get better as I go along. I am not allowed to do any strength exercises till at least 14 weeks, all this is to get it to that point. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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