CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT
Welcome to the 87th National Road Carriers Annual General Meeting. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all our guests here today including, members, commercial partners, fellow directors of the executive board, life members and the NRC Team.
With 2023 an election year we are presented with a great opportunity to push the needs of the transport sector into the spotlight. NRC has been advocating strongly and is sending clear signals to local and central Government, and their various agencies, on what the transport sector needs to be able to function effectively.
As a critical enabler of the New Zealand economy, it is important our voice is not just heard, but listened to. NRC’s call for a 50-year roading infrastructure plan that is out of reach of politicians is the first step to achieving quality roads with the resilience we need for the future. Added to this an employment environment that allows us to attract and keep the skilled workforce we need, in an environment that supports a realistic low emissions transition built from supply chain evidence, and that we have the makings for success.
As I reflect on the past year, the NRC board has once again stepped up in terms of performance meeting monthly to support Justin as he works to bring the strategy to life.
The industry's big issues have been discussed in frequent meetings by the Transport and Logistics Advisory Group. The Group is focused on looking for ways NRC can set the narrative on what the industry urgently needs. Identifying ways for NRC to ‘seize the moment’ around long-term infrastructure planning, sustainable funding and transport industry data have been central to the group’s discussions.
Likewise, sustainability and the need for the industry to be supported to ensure a ‘just transition’ that delivers on emissions goals while ensuring the industry continues to flourish and meet the needs of New Zealanders.
Behind the scenes the NRC team is laying the foundations that will tackle these big issues. A great example of this is the recent win with Immigration New Zealand who announced that for the first time ever truck drivers (Class 4 and 5) will now have a 2-year work to residency pathway from September. This is something that NRC have been lobbying for decades, so it is a hard-fought win. Being able to tap into international skills is critical in such a tight workforce market.
NRC has a proud history of working on your behalf with politicians and officials so you can get on with running your business. Our sector is made up of practical people who just like to get stuck in and get things done – like you, we can’t understand what the hold-up is when it comes to things like fixing roads and sorting out the driver shortage. Writing Government submissions and attending the multitude of meetings with Government or local body officials or fronting the news media are at the bottom of the list of things I would rather be doing.
That is why we need NRC to bridge the gap, getting in the ear of the Minister of Transport, Opposition party spokespeople, officials from Waka Kotahi as well as local council staff and Mayors is how we will positively shape our transport environment to ensure sustainability as an industry for the future.
Key to ensuring NRC flourishes is an engaged team, and a growing membership.
That’s why over the last 18 months you’ve seen us take some huge strides forward; recruiting Justin as our new CEO alongside a renewed focus on a business strategy centred around investing in the future. NRC is in a strong financial position which is why the Board has made the decision to invest some of our reserves into building organisational capability.
Now more than ever it is important that we get the foundations right as New Zealand’s largest road transport industry association. NRC, along with our members, is facing financial headwinds. The traditional industry association model is under-pressure – in a post-pandemic environment, attracting and keeping members engaged is challenging and that is why we are transforming NRC so it can continue to be the voice of members for the next 87 years and beyond.
We are a small organisation, that punches well above its weight, largely because we have a talented and committed NRC team who are strongly supported by a passionate board.
As we developed our business strategy to ensure the organisation remains in a strong position, the Board asked ourselves whether the current association structure – NRC, NTA and TNZ – is truly fit for purpose.
It is the NRC Board’s view is that one single national industry organisation is in the best interests of the transport sector. However, the pathway to achieve this is not clear. This year we were pleased to formalize our long-term relationship with NZ Trucking Association, we now have a clear MOU in place, and this is working well and delivering results.
I know there has been some industry speculation that ‘one organisation’ is moving closer to reality, so its timely to confirm that NRC is not in discussions with either Transporting NZ or the NZ Trucking Association about becoming one organisation. Until the Road Transport Association has their house in order this is simply not an option, but we are of course open to broad industry cooperation, with NRC bringing a unity to the sector that the RTAs are trying to achieve. A great example of the industry working together is the work that NRC board member, Don Wilson, does with the livestock sector group who will be looking for industry support with some of the issues this group is facing.
The ultimatum to depart from the RTAs two years ago and the subsequent settlement agreement resulted in NRC embracing the opportunity because we did not believe that the RTF was delivering results for our members.
Up till now we have stayed silent because it is our policy not to comment on rumour and speculation. Engaging in a public debate would only be a distraction from the important and productive work that we have underway.
Instead, our focus is on delivering real change by tackling the big challenges and shaping positive outcomes for the road transport industry.
We are building trusted relationships with the Government and its agencies, while we reserve the right to disrupt the status quo – because our mandate is to work to deliver improvements to members and the industry. We remain very open to sharing investment and successes for the betterment of the industry and – what I can promise – is that when we have something to share, NRC members will be the first to know.
That concludes the Chairman’s report, thanks to you, our members for your continued support of our association.