“A place to set aside competitive issues and find ways to resolve industry challenges,” is the way Garth Bolton, Executive, Cargo Carriers Ltd, describes the Road Freight Association (RFA). Established in 1975 and originally known as the Private Haulers Association (PHA) the association has a long and rich history of pioneering change and tackling industry-wide problems.
The RFA has been the single industry voice promoting the interest of its members for many decades and the benefit this has brought to members is manifold. From addressing challenges in the early days related to the road transport permit system, all the way through to latter days issues such as carbon taxes, e-tolls and proposed truck bans.A former chairperson of the RFA, Bolton admits that his company has always believed in the significance of the association. “My father was one of the founding members and I have always found the stories he told about the creation of the association intriguing.
“My father often mentioned that the founding members were all entrepreneurial individuals with their own views on how the industry needed to move forward. The fact that they came together and built cohesion to address issues of critical importance, not only reflects their individual commitment, but also their commitment to the industry at large,” he observes.
The efficient and cost effective transportation of goods and products is an absolutely critical aspect to any economy and the role the association has played in removing potential blockages is something Bolton feels is sometimes underappreciated.
“The multiplier effect on the economy of any delays in transportation can be huge. It is something the association is very aware of and the negotiations it entered into, to facilitate ease of processing at cross-border points reflects the RFA’s desire to ‘keep the wheels turning’.”
The role the association played in creating centralised bargaining for the sector is also an undertaking that has helped to keep the industry moving forward. It has taken potential acrimony during wages negotiations out of the workplace and elevated it to a higher national agenda.
“While there is always some debate around the cost impact of centralised bargaining,” noted Bolton, “There is no doubt that the potential for adversarial situations to develop has been removed and that the employees of members also benefit from the work the association does.”
Looking ahead he believes there is still a critical role for the RFA to play in ensuring that its members are given an equal opportunity to ply their trade. “If one just considers the effort by rail to claim a larger slice of the general goods market, combined with government’s efforts at legislating the transport of certain products onto rail. It’s apparent that the RFA’s role is as important as it has ever been.
“Going forward I have no doubt that they will continue to play a critical role in ensuring that we remain an industry that is agile and responsive to client needs.”